Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Orson Wells School of Journalism

Really, the news on TV gets worse and worse these days except for PBS.  What are they teaching in journalism schools these days?  Apparently not the who, what, why, where and when.  TV news seems to just be "it".  And what is this fascination with car wrecks?  The TV people seem desperate for visual footage of just about anything.

When they don't have a story they make it up.  Take recently the reports of a massave earthquake (which mind you hasn't happened), taking place on the west coast.  "This will be the BIG ONE", the news reader says. "A megaquake along the West Coast is long overdue according to some scientists who believe a high magnitude Oregon or Calilfornia earthquake may be in the making." And it’s predicted an offshore high magnitude California earthquake could trigger a tsunami that would give residents little warning and create $70 billion in devastation.

That is right up there with Orson Wells' 1938 radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" a dramatic presentation of a Martian invasion of earth.  Many people thought it was real.  The newspapers played up the event with hugh headlines reading "Fake Radio War Stirs Terror Through the US", hoping to discredit radio news and supporting newspapers as the only reliable new source.  Sort of like the pot calling the kettle black.

News readers rebell.  Ask for a complete story instead of just reading short sound bites.  John Q Public really wants to know a whole story for a change.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Readers in Ukraine

Dear readers in the Ukraine:

I am surprised and delighted that many of you Ukrainians are reading my blog and I wonder what there is which attracts you.

Perhaps you are students studying English and find my simplistic writing style easy to read. That would be great if this were the case.

My blog provides statistics on the number of times my blog is opened and in what countries people are reading.  Of course I don't know who you are, but it would be great to get some feedback from my readers.

By any chance could some of you write a comment or two under a post to let me know something about you and your life in your country?  I know that things have not been easy for many of you.

I send you my best wishes and hope that you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

(It would be a great Christmas present to hear from you).

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Join Via Email

An easy way to be notified of a new post is by putting your email in the Email address box under "Follow by Email" just above my photo on the right and you will receive notification in your email when I add a new one.  I promise not to give your email address to anyone! 

December Dreams

Right now I would like to be in Micronesia on some wonderful little island with a sparkling lagoon. There are several date palms lining the shore and a warm trade wind breeze is coming in off the water.  I am wearing a skimpy swimsuit, I think it is a red blossom pattern and I wear a hibiscus flower over my left ear. 

My black hair has grown quite long and although I like it I am thinking of trimming it shorter.  The salt water does strange things with hair, makes it kind of ratty and globby.   Raffie, my current squeeze, has gone off to spear some fish for din din and I hope he doesn’t catch any of those wonderful parrot fish. They are so beautiful. But we are hungry and have been living off the resources of this idyllic place.  Even though I can’t stand coconut milk I do drink it as it provides some sustenance.  The dates are a treat, I confess and reef fish cooked over a fire with coconut milk ain’t too bad.

I am sure that someone will come to rescue us soon. It has only been two weeks and I am sure people in Palau are beginning to worry about us.  If Raffie hadn’t been so careless with his navigation we would be in good shape but typical of a man he refused to refer to the navigation charts and failed to see the slightly submerged rock coral mass which we sailed into and ripped the keel clean off rendering the boat useless. Fortunately we were able to gather a few survival things, inflate the little raft and row to this island.  It’s not a bad place to be marooned.  Could be worse. Could be in Seattle in December. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankgsiving with RobertaSue

Home is where you love to hate to get back to it again and RobertaSue was not looking
forward to Thanksgiving dinner at her parents’ house. She knew what the drill was going to be. 

Uncle Fred always drank too many martinis before dinner and his eyelids froze at half-mast, but he was a kind drunk and tried not to cause a fuss. Well, he always went into details of the Battle of Corregidor where he lost way too many buddies it must have been a horrible experience except that we have heard this tale way too many times.  He always winds up in tears and has to be sent to the guestroom bedroom to sleep it off before pumpkin pie is served.  His wife, Aunt Fanny, is a piece of work, husky as a Russian farmwife and the manners to match. She sits in front of her dish, piled high with plenty of biscuits, potatoes and gravy and with both elbows on the table dives into the mountain of calories before grace is even finished. 

Their son, Wes the policeman, must have a stressful job because he, too, always drinks too much and by the time he finishes the last bite of turkey and gravy his face hits his plate and he is deep into slumber.

RobertaSue really hates these holiday dinners but it is the only time they are all together and she always hopes that things will be pleasant rather than a series of emotional catastrophes like pelting hail on a tin roof which never seems to stop.

RobertaSues parents haven’t spoken to each other in 10 years and only leave notes on a blackboard.  If the phone rings and her mother picks it up and the call is for her father, her mother has a bike horn that she blasts three times and leaves the receiver on the table top.  Her dad can’t even remember what the original disagreement was but her mother is still so mad she spits nails when they share a table at mealtime.  When they have no guests they both eat at different places, her dad propped up on his Banka lounger Chair and her mom sits at the kitchen table.

RobertaSue thanks the gods that she left home before her parents got into the original fight.  They will talk to her on the phone but she can’t ask about the other ones while they are visiting on the phone. She finds the whole thing exhausting and wonders of there might be some way she could avoid those monstrous family gatherings.

The only one she really likes in her maiden Aunt Rosy, with such a sweet disposition and temper who just smiles that angelic smile while disaster after disaster unfolds at the table. She just pays no regard to the fireworks and mad evil slinging of barbs among relatives. RobertaSue wishes she were more like Aunt Rosy and wonderful how she manages a shield to bounce anger pain and meanness off her.  Aunt Rosy spent about five years in the Convent of the Lady of the Sparkling Lake and was pretty much on her way to becomes a full fledges nun when the bishop caused a scandal by running away with the Mother Superior, shocking the community and blasting the foundations of the local Catholic Church, “Our lady of Fatima”.  Aunt Rosy cast off her black dress and white wimple and threw the five pound cross she wore around her neck into the deepest part of Sparkling Lake.

She then enrolled in library school because she was expertly trained to be a quite person.  Her job was a little difficult at times when the church put out a list of banned books.  Aunt Rosy removed the banned books to her simply apartment and read each one in detail, and wondered why the Church has objections to them.

RobertaSue promised herself that she would not get into a roaring disagreement with any family member around the dinner table and would not react to any negative comments sniped her way.  Upon entering the front door, laden down with bags of food her dad said, “Looks like you have packed on the pounds, sweetie, better hit the gym soon.”

“Sure Dad.” she  replied.

Mom greeter her with, “What have you done to your hair?” with a scowl.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Scary Things

Things which scare me are too numerous to mention.  Since it is Halloween today, being scared is on all of our minds.  I am afraid that the media really feeds in to my neurotic alarm, setting if off when ISIS is mentioned, crazy religious fanatics lopping off heads, taking over Syrian towns with the poor Kurds trying to fend them off. Ebola is a major lead story talked about so much, image after image is shown with people in hazmat suites and goggles as if the air they breath will make them come down with the dreaded disease.  I wonder how folks reacted to the Plague in the Middle Ages, with no radios, TV, social media and newspapers to keep them informed, just a town crier?  Which makes me think that the evening news should be renamed Town Criers as the news readers get some sort of thrill of introducing yet another boogie man for us to look out for.  Children are afraid to go out into the woods any more to enjoy the surprised and delights of nature.  Isn't that a shame?

I read the papers and they, too, to a degree try to scare us but usually with more information than 3-second sound bites on TV.  There are medical reports and nutritional scares, what to avoid, what new food groups not to eat or more of them to eat.  What goes into our bodies and create havoc with diseases attacking our cardio vascular and circulatory systems our arteries clogged with a number of GMO foods. 

There are so many things to be scared of that I don’t need Halloween to remind me, as I am in a constant state of Halloween awareness everyday.  My adrenalin is constantly pumping away trying to alarm my avoidance reflexes.

I think the cave man had it pretty easy. All he had to be scared of was the saber tooth tiger and a constant fire at night in the cave would keep the creature at bay.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Polar Bear Attack

He staggered into the bar and then he told the most amazing story I could not stop listening how he survived a hungry polar bear not out on the tundra but right here in town. 

Jackson was disheveled, torn snow pants, scratches on his face, his fleece parka had a big rip down the back.  His hands were shaking as he tried to drink a brandy offered by one of the guys at the bar.  All conversation stopped and heads turned to his direction.

“So, OK, I was a little swacked out, but the full moon helped me to find the way.  I had just come back from working my trap line and was a little dizzy. Shouldn’t have had that shot at the Lazy Bear Lodge on an empty stomach.  I was just rounding the corner of Munck Street when a huge thing lunged at me from the shadows.  Damned if it wasn’t the biggest bear I had ever seen. He didn’t let out a growl but threw himself on me and I fell onto two garbage cans, thems what saved me I think.  The rattle and clatter of the cans must have scared him off, but not before he took a couple of big swipes at me.  Jeeze, look at my parka.  It’s a mess and I haven’t the money to have it sewn up.”

With that Mrs. Running Deer spoke up and said,  “I’ll fix it for ya, just happen to have my needle with me.”

Jackson took off his parka and laid it down on the table in front of Mrs. Running Deer.  “Much obliged, Ma’am.” 

Three of us grabbed our rifles and headed out to Munck Street to see if a bear was on the prowl.  We found the two garbage cans tipped over and one of the lids was wired shut.  A couple of piece of wire stuck out like a brush and there were bits of fabric on them.  We didn’t see any bear prints but we did see Mrs. Andreason’s white sheets flapping in the wind.  One of the sheets was down on the ground in a bundle.  My buddies and I then determined what had really happened.  Jackson did not meet a polar bear.  He met up with some white sheets moving in the wind and he thought it was a bear coming at him, too much John Barleycorn in his system.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Heavy Bag

The old man carried a large bag over his shoulder and he was staggering under its weight. I had been watching him for several days and the bundle seems to have gotten bigger and bigger since I first saw him. The bursting bag was well-worn, furls of weaving strained at the seams. 

I had just made a fresh pot of coffee and had two warm cinnamon rolls from the bakery across the street.  I put a thermos of coffee and the two rolls and some napkins, a tablecloth and a few packets of sugar into a bag and walked down from my flat into the street towards the man with a bag.  He had stopped in an alley to rest up from his heavy load and was sitting on a packing crate.

“Say", I said, “I hope you don’t mind but I have been watching you the past couple of days and wonder if you would like to join me for coffee and a roll?”

“Mighty nice of you, Miss, I could use the pep up to continue my walk.  It has been a long morning.”

He was dressed in well-worn brown fire hose canvas pants patched at the knees, stained in oil, a tattered quilt jacket over two moth eaten wool sweaters and tweed flat cap.

I laid out a tablecloth and poured two cups of steaming coffee, then placeed two tin plates with cinnamon rolls on them.  The vagabond seemed pleased.

“Sugar?” I asked.

“Two packets please,” he said.

I stirred the coffee and handed it to him.

“I am curious”, I said, “It isn’t polite to ask but I have been wondering what have you been carrying around in that huge bag.“

“Full of dreams,” he said.


“Yes, and the load gets heaver and heavier. Because I just keep adding to them.”

"Can’t you get rid of them?"

"I had the opportunity a long time ago to act on them but I kept putting them off, saying someday…Now I am burdened with the weight of them."

"I am sorry."

"So all I have to say, Miss, is to act on your own dreams now or you will be burdened with them for the rest of your life."

We finished our coffee in silence.

“Well," he says getting up from his crate, throwing the hug bundle on his back,  “have to be on my way now.  I have a life time to walk.”

I watched him until he disappeared down the street.  I never saw him again.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tasteful Wedding Photos

It was beaconing to me and I couldn’t resist it.  I hoped no one was watching me as I snatched a copy of the
September People magazine to buy to see the Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s marriage photos.  I had heard that the proceeds of selling their wedding album were going to charities, which was a refreshing thought in contrast to the Kardashian-West extravaganza of major excesses costing millions of dollars. (I am not even sure what the Kardashinas do.  I just think they are, if that is something).

After putting away my groceries I happily opened up the People magazine to take a gander at the wedding photos, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  It looked like their children helped to plan the small private wedding, and how sweet was that?

Angelina, looking for the entire world virginal, wore a white wedding dress and veil that her children had helped to design along with the House of Versace.  Their drawing of tulips, butterflies, zebras and caterpillars were sewn into the gown and veil such sweet reminders of the children’s lives.  Son Pax made the six-layered wedding cake and decorated it with white pink and green flowers.  What a contrast to the Kardashian-West seven foot wedding cake which cost over six thousand dollars.

The kids looked pleased as punch at the ceremony and had grins that exuded pure delight.  It was totally a family affair, small, private and included every member of the family.  I wish them all well. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Horse Sense

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink and the silly fool just stands there snorting away dropping snot into the trough.  That damn horse is the stupidest animal on the ranch. 

Daddy gave Taffy to me on my seventh birthday, complete with a new saddle and a bright red saddle blanket.  I could tell from the first time I got on him that he didn’t have a brain in his head.  In my shiny new cowboy boots I gave Taffy a giddy up kick and he just stood there like some nougat covered statue.  Daddy whomped him good on the rear end and Taffy took off like a lightening bolt with me hanging on for dear life.  I wasn’t expecting that old nag to gallop with such power as he jumped over ditches, flying through the air, and landing with such force that I nearly bit my tonsils. Somehow I manage to hang on for the wildest ride of my life til’ he finally wore himself out and slowed to a walk.

Daddy came barreling along in his Jeep thinking he would find me in a pile of legs and bones having the shit knocked out of me.  He was so surprised to see me still a sittin’ on that steed.  I could tell he was mighty proud of me, just a whip of a seven-year-old girl, my pigtails unraveled, sweat pouring down my cheeks and breathing like a dragon after a battle.

“Why I didn’t think that old nag had it in him, “ Daddy said laughing.  “He never so much ever did more than a loopy trot before.  You’ve got yourself a one hell of a horse, sister.”

He may be one hell of a horse, but old Taffy never so much as ever broke into a gallop ever again.  He just plugs along like a saddle weary packhorse.  He is just a hay burner and pooper, and if he has it in him he just ambles up to the water trough and stands there admiring his reflection and never drinks a drop. At least never when I am lookin’ at him.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Family Thicket

I am looking for myself in my own family story and wonder where do I fit in the “thicket” of people? And there are a lots of them; artists, musicians, and lumber people who sacked the northwest of old growth trees, had a steamship company with seven ships which ferried lumber from Aberdeen and Raymond to San Francisco.  They had so much timber that they built a small railroad to carry the fallen logs out of the woods to the mills. 

It was a prosperous family business for many years, until the stock market crashes and bear markets sent the company into a financial tailspin. Soon they could not afford to repair their many older railroad trestles and had to sell their forested land to Weyerhaeuser.  Every time I drive through Willapa Bay area I think of my family of lumber barons.  I never knew them as I was the youngest of the extended family, but tales were told and when I heard them it was like they were talking about strangers.

My father, Lance, decided not to participate in the family business instead went to Chicago to study at the Art Institute and become an artist.  Don’t know what his father thought about that but I think his mother probably supported him.  The 1922 photograph I have hanging on my wall is of 26 Hart-Wood- Green family members.  Looks like there was even a babe in arm and a few ancient senior members.  My father looks tall and handsome standing in the back row.  His mother, Emma, sits in front of him with the sweetest expression on her face an expression inherited by my dear Aunt Em.  The senior lumbermen look stern but rather elegant in fashionable suits and ties.

My dad’s favorite cousin and best friend, Fred Hart, was a musician who taught composition and piano at Julliard in New York.  I met him once briefly and he was composing an opera and played a tune or two from it.  I feel like I am the ebb of the family, the last remaining bits of historical scatterings.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Garden Statue

It was a quiet and hot afternoon.  I rounded the corner of the old church to see this beautiful statue in the garden surrounded by a wrought iron fence covered with run away ivy.  I might have just walked passed it and not seen it but a call from an unfamiliar bird made me stop to look into the overgrown garden to see if I could find the mysterious creature and there I saw the beautiful female statue surrounded by wild roses. 

I found a gate, slightly ajar, thankfully as it was now rusted and frozen in position.  I had brought my lunch in my backpack and since it was almost 1’oclock I searched for a bench and found one close to the statue and sat down.  I laid out the large yellow napkin I use for a table cloth beside me and brought out the porchetta sandwich I purchase at the market this morning.  A ripe pear, a split of prosecco, and tiny carrots made up my midday respite and looked very good after my morning hike.  As I opened the prosecco and poured it into my folding glass I swore I saw the statue move.  No, it must be a shadow of a bush moved by the wind.  

The porchetta sandwich was delicious and I stared at the statue wondering whom she represented. She didn’t have wings so she wasn't an angel.  But she might she been an angel in real life, a benefactor to the church or perhaps some scholarly woman of letters admired by those who have read her. Perhaps she was the lead soloist in the church choir and on her demise a statue was dedicated.  I closed my eyes and let the warm sun shine on my face.

After dusting off the crumbs of my sandwich for the birds I walked over to the statue to get a closer look.  In her right hand is a bouquet of flowers.  They look like wild violets.  I can almost smell them.  I look around to see if some are growing in this garden but I don’t see any.  I look at her eyes and they are flat without eyelids and look blind.  

At the base of the statue I see some writing carved into the marble, and I dust off dried moss so that I can read the inscription better.  My pocket Italian phrase book helps but this is what it says “In honor of Signoria Charlotta Pagani, the flower lady of Montefalco, from the grateful people of the village.  Born 1925  Died 1945 In the Battle of Terni ”  She must have gone to the big market in Terni to buy the flowers for her little shop in Monetfalco, when the allies hit the munitions factory.  She is now at peace in this quiet garden and I honor her. As I walk away I can still smell wild violets in the air.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gourmet Caesar Croutons


Good Afternoon Margie’s Gourmet Caesar Croutons, how may I help you?

I would like to talk to Margie.

Sorry sir, Margie is just the name of the company we don’t have a person named Margie.  I am a Margie customer service associate and I can help you.

Today I purchased a package of your “Margie’s Gourmet Caesar Croutons” made with your calabrese bread, whatever that is. I did a taste test with yours against “Fresh Gourmet Organic Caesar Premium Croutons” and I have to tell you that yours tasted terrible.

So sorry sir that you had that experience. We use the best of ingredients.

You may use the best of ingredients but they tasted like crap.

We have had focus groups tested and they were delighted with the Margies’s Gourmet Caesar Croutons.

Well, you probably paid your focus groups and they were going to rave about your product.  I was not delighted with them as a matter of fact after eating one I threw the rest away in the garbage.  I don’t know what special spices you added to make them gourmet but they tasted like dried horse shit.

If you were disatisfied with Magie’s Gourmet Caesar Croutons we would be glad to send you a free coupon for the purchase of another package.

I don’t want another package as a matter of fact I don’t even want my money returned I just wanted you to know that some of us find your product uneatable.

 We use the best of ingredients, sir.

Your best of ingredients doesn’t do it. What in the world is that very odd taste in your product?

The ingredients are listed on the package, sir.

It just says “and other spices” and I want to know exactly what spices you used.

Our nutritionists and chefs in our award winning test kitchens select the very best of ingredients.  Of course I cannot divulge the secret recipe we have to protect our products to keep them from our competitors.

Believe me that when your other competitors taste your croutons they will not be dying to know what special spices you use.

If you would please send us an address, sir, I will send you a free coupon for the purchase of another Margies’s Gourmet Caesar Croutons.

I don’t want your damn coupon.  I wouldn’t feed your croutons to alley cats.  I don’t want my money returned.  It cost me only $2.49 pus tax to learn never to purchase something I have never tasted before.

Perhaps sir, we can send you a free coupon for any of our other superior Margie’s products.

I wouldn’t buy one of your products again, don’t you understand?

I am so sorry sir for your experience and I have noted your review of our Margie’s Gourmet Caesar Croutons and will send it on to our product quality control.

Just what is that odd spice you have added or is it the calabrese bread?  Is it made from licorice or stable droppings?

Sorry sir, we cannot divulge a company secret.

Believe me, miss, your company secret ain’t worth keeping.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Rabid Transit Rant

Seattle has an hourglass figure.  It is squeezed in the middle by two major bodies of water making east-west traffic a major problem and at rush hour easily comes to a complete stop like a blocked artery.

Our “City Fathers”, in all their wisdom, have been working on the Mercer Street major arterial project for years. You would think these engineers would figure out that squishing down four lanes into two and then to one lane might cause a huge back up for people trying to get to the freeway to drive home.  At least I wasn't on Mercer but on Denny, a parallel street.

I was invited to dinner on Capital Hill normally  a 12-minute bus ride from my house, but last evening turned into an nightmare of jammed busses, stagnate traffic, no air conditioning and cranky passengers.

My #8 bus was stop-and-go for 45 minutes and had traveled only seven blocks. Of course it never occurred to King County Metro to make announcements informing us why the traffic is backed up. We are prisoners trapped in a metal cage without any information.  But upon inquiry the #8 bus driver said that the traffic had been like this for a week. Realizing I wasn’t going to get to my destination on this bus, the driver told me I could catch a #10 downtown. I got off and walked a mile to catch it.

Once downtown I caught a very crowded #10 and a sweet young gang member offered me his seat.  I am always surprised by the courtesy of some young people. No air conditioning was on but I was right under an overhead hatch that had been popped to let in fresh air.

It only took an hour and a half to reach my destination and fortunately I was not the last guest to arrive.  An ice cold Margarita was a welcomed beverage for a weary traveler.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tree Hugger

The tree was so stately and I couldn’t resist. It was such a fine day in a riparian forest in Santa Rita Mountains and Madera Canyon, Arizona.  It was beastly hot as we trudged our way up the path from the state park to the great bird watching area at Santa Rita Lodge.  We were sweating and grateful for some shade along the way. We stopped briefly at a small bridge and I couldn’t help but to walk over and hug this tree.  Somehow I found it comforting and I hope the tree liked it too.

Trees have a natural attraction for me.  On Vancouver Island while walking through a rare patch of old growth Douglas fir I had to stop to wrap my arms around its trunk.  Of course my arms weren’t long enough to encircle the trunk but a long-armed hug was good enough.  It was sort of a “thank you” for providing such a lovely setting and a hug of encouragement to keep it healthy and fit for years to come.

My encounter with the Baobab tree was in Madagascar.  The odd-looking trees look like they were planted upside down with their roots sticking out of the top.  It is known as “The Tree of Life” in parts of the world where it grows, as it provides materials for constructing buildings, water storage for thirsty people in its branches, and seeds and fruit are a source of rich energy foods.

Some Baobab trees are thought to be several thousand years old.  Mother Nature is tricky with this tree, as they have no growth rings. Can you imagine no rings to count! And the larger trees can have trunks up to 35 feet in diameter, which if my math calculation is right 35x 3.14 (π ) = 109.9 feet in circumference. That is a lot to try to hug.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Foot Traffic

It occurred to me this morning, as I was driving to my early morning swim on a holiday day, how much I love being on the almost vacant Seattle streets. On a workday when I drive to go swimming cars are lined up for blocks and blocks all trying to go to work at the same time.  This morning's lovely spaciousness makes me think that I would love to live in some little town with virtually no traffic. 

One of the main reasons why love Venice is that there are no autos. Everyone walks and how wonderful is that?  The calli are narrow and a bit uneven and one does have to watch where one is walking.  There are lots of little bridges over canals and many of them have steps making it almost impossible for a person in a wheel chair to navigate the streets.  Of course goods and materials are carried on flat narrow barges which float by.  That is the only quickly moving traffic.

I loved my early morning walks from the little apartment we rented over to the Campo S. Barbara for a cappuccino and soft roll. 
Coffee is served in little cups which makes me slow down and not gulp it.  It was great looking at people out walking their dogs and carrying produce from the Rialto market.  I passed shop windows where chefs were laying out out all kinds of pizza, that flat kind with few ingredients unlike the Americanized version of thick crusts piled high with huge varieties of cheeses and veggies.  After a few days I begin to become slow – as in slow food. Take my time, savor the moment, and gear down.