Sunday, December 28

Retro Aquarians

"An Aquarian year doesn’t mean we’ll all turn into hippies. That’s not really Aquarian. Aquarius is more lost in thought, and although concerned with social order and equality, it’s a very airy sort of interest, a mental concern. But if there was a time in recent memory when we needed new ideas for old problems, would this not be it? Yes, indeed, we’ll take all the Jupiter-in-Aquarius help we can get, turning things around in our minds, open to unexpected “Eureka!” moments." - December 20, 2008, Los Angeles

Looking forward to a happy, Hippy New Year!!

Some info, music and video links that really "blow my mind" - Good "Eureka" stuff.

1. "What Have You Changed Your Mind About" from the Edge World Question Center
2. "How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Values" - Jane Mayer interview.
3. "Everybody" and "Peace on Earth" by guitarist and singer, Raul Midon
4. "Andy Plays Mozart" - scene from the movie, "Shawshank Redemption"
5. "The Cow" by Aleksandr Petrov
6. "Fantastic Planet" by Rene Laloux
7. Chromasia - photoblog
8. Postsecret - BloggieBlog

Celebrate all year long!

Wednesday, December 17

Wednesday, November 26

Shiny Peace Pebble

Well, the holiday season has officially begun! I am starting to pack for a trip to my mother in law's in Arizona and decided to add a little more stress by bringing a futon in the back of our truck. Seemed like a good idea, but I forgot that old saying, "Be careful what you wish for..." and I've been wishing for rain! Put a futon, plus torrential rains, plus a 400 mile trip together and let the fun begin : - ( There are other stress factors kicking off this holiday season's frivolities, but we're taking them as they come - one day at a time.

Despite the rain, furniture moving madness, and usual family interaction stuff, it will be fabulous! I just hope my husband survives his sixteen hour workday today and is able to sleep through the trip. I also hope my son and his family have a safe trip to Mom's house and enjoy themselves. We are thankful to have healthy family and friends, money to pay bills plus a little extra, and real love and happiness. Life is good!

May all beings know love and peace. We are grateful.

Sunday, November 23

Art and Healing

"There is a global energy that is screaming to be let out on the canvas. It speaks of the spirit of humanity, the omnipresent, the one God, one life. People of all faiths are becoming more comfortable in coming forth and sharing their beliefs. Art can be the universal language that transcends all languages with the message of love and oneness. It is the coming home to Spirit, regardless of the spiritual path. That type of art has the potential to heal the world."
- artist, Malcomn Farley

Thursday, November 13

Vitamin C and Hand Sanitizer Season

It's time to get mentally and physically prepared to resist cold weather illnesses. It has been so dry and the air quality so poor in Los Angeles, that allergies, more than cold viruses cause much of the seasonal health problems.

I just bought some oranges - slightly tart - but good. Eating and drinking our vitamins and minerals is probably the best way to stay healthy. Here's an interesting video on the subject.

Thursday, November 6

Be Brave in the New World - Remix

"The brave new world I speak of is created from the fearlessness of the self and knows no division or enemies. This brave new world is the budding of human consciousness - the waking up of humanity to the realization of its true spiritual identity. This is a time of true freedom from our addiction to fear and a new understanding of fear as a vehicle for reawakening us when we have fallen asleep at the wheel of life." - Joseph Bailey, "Fear Proof Your Life"

The election of Barack Obama renews my faith in humanity. What I like about Obama is that he is not afraid of work. It is hard work figuring out a positive path to travel in this troubled world. He has the intellect, drive, and stamina to lead the way to a better place and inspire others to help him do it. Family, friends, coworkers express the same feeling of lightness. We can breathe again and we feel relieved that the painful, destructive dark cloud of fear is moving on. Hell must be filled with people living and reliving past disasters, asking the useless question, "Why, me", and condemning anyone who does not fear and hate as intensely as they do.

I really don't like pain, so I choose to do something positive and reject that dark place of fear. There is an undeniable force in the universe that gives back what we project. Everyone has a story validating the concept of karma, "what goes round comes round," "think and grow rich," "be careful what you wish for," and miracles or prayers answered. Because I really believe in this principle, the past eight years filled with fear mongering, careless words (e.g., "bring it on"), aggression, and torture have been horrendous. Holding the higher ground, trying to maintain positive psychic energy and make positive choices is going to be easier now. Not because the troubles in the world are gone. The world continues to be dangerous and filled with pain and suffering. It will be easier to live when hope not fear is the focus. On Tuesday night, Obama was given a beautiful, rare and broken nation to repair and protect. We the people are with him in making America and the world a better place.

"Somewhere over the rainbow,
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can't I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why, can't I?"

Yes, Dorothy. We can!

Wednesday, October 29

Art of Shopping... shopping that is. I have learned that there is an art to buying things online and like learning any art, there are successes and failures.

My most recent failures have been with Twice, now, I have attempted to buy electronic or computer related items and have been unsuccessful. Last summer, I tried to buy a Nikon Coolpix from Amazon and wound up purchasing it from one of their resellers, 17th Street Photo. When I tried to use the camera, it didn't work. I finally narrowed it down to problems with the the memory card reader and contacted Amazon, which redirected me to 17th Street who redirected me to Nikon who redirected me back to 17th Street. The camera had a defective card reader. Hello!!

They have a 7-day window for returns and they require email contact so that they can issue an email with a return authorization number. Unfortunately, I received the camera the same day that I had to travel out of state because of a family illness. The family member is elderly and does not have internet access, so I struggled to figure out how to comply with 17th Street. Finally, I got my husband to do the email/internet stuff, I took the camera with original packaging with me, he faxed me the email authorization which I enclosed in the camera package and I was able to get it mailed (at my expense, of course) on the last of the 7-day deadline. I did get a refund and passed on getting another camera.

Why didn't I learn from this experience? I'm a stupid human, so I tried to buy Windows XP via Amazon who redirected me to a reseller named Digital Media who processed my credit card but failed to deliver the product. So.... I contacted Amazon, was redirected to DM, who did not respond to phone or email contact which I documented and then recontacted Amazon who finally refunded my money within a reasonable time (apx. ten days). The whole mess took about a month and a half of follow up and sick realization that this reseller is probably out of business.

So.... I have learned that digital, computerized, expensive, complex, etc., items must be purchased in a brick and mortar place. I've had to return items to Best Buy and Circuit City, but at least they have live people and a location, not a black shopping hole somewhere in the Amazon universe. To be fair, Amazon does back up the transactions, so I did not lose money, but the time and expense of followup and return shipping is such a PITA, I won't do it again.

Meanwhile.... I have bought low dollar items from Amazon, no problem, Barnes and Noble and even Costco! I would also recommend, Cafe Press -especially my own site ( ^-^ ) Art in LA, Red Bubble, Deviant Art, Etsy and ImageKind for Tshirt, art cards, jewelry, etc., but, for clothes, electronics, and other such items it is best to be able to "try them on" or get the sizes and styles nailed down. Unless I'm very confident about the brand, size, etc., I won't order online.

Tuesday, October 28


"Wherever an inferiority complex exists, there is a good reason for it." - Carl Jung Interview, 1943

“Hey! Check your email once in a while, why don’t ya. Call me.” The answering machine beeped as I scratched my elbow."

“Who the hell is that,” I wonder. I don’t recognize the voice. It is a man’s voice and it sounds like he’s using a cell phone in a wind storm. I continue scratching my elbow, hoping that the scaly patch under my fingernail crumbles and disappears. The lotion I got at the 99-Cent store is useless against the itchy desert of my skin these days. Not enough water. Maybe cutting back on the carbs is causing problems, too. My trickster mind always finds a way to justify my junk food addiction. It doesn’t care that my bulk detracts from any good looks I still possess. I should care more, erm… I want to care more. Okay, okay. I do care, but not right now.

"Well, well, well,” I read the latest email from Mr. “Call me.” It's from my ex husband. “He’s still charming as ___,” and my mind fills in the blank with “not." He never was charming. Talented, exciting, alien, dangerous are better words to describe him and maybe irresponsible, selfish, capricious, Gemini esque, enough said. Every woman has one in her past and I am grateful that my past is so long ago. He wants me to venture out, in the middle of the week, to some club on the far Westside, and hear his new band. I roll my eyes; continue scratching my elbow, and tune in to the sarcastic voice in my head for a while. I politely decline this invitation using a minimum of words and human warmth.


His rejection was the first hammer blow against my healthy ego and it took me a long time to excrete enough delusion and “self love” to cover over the inferiority gouges and self-doubt chips. He is the product of a very dysfunctional family, filled with money, divorces, backstabbing, overdoses, suicide and mistrust. He is the most together and emotionally healthy of them all and I am happy that he made it out alive, but I learned that pain begets pain. There is and was nothing personal about the pain he inflicted on me and his son. He does better than his father before him and I know his son will do better about inflicting pain than his father. So, why do I still feel inferior and damaged?

Time heals wounds. This is true. Many wounds that he inflicted are healed and because of modern psychiatry, my one true love, family, and friends, hardly any scars show. There is a big fissure somewhere around the heart muscle, though. The distance between the jagged edges is almost non existent now, but there is still distance, a distance filled with memories.

“What’s wrong with you tonight, my friend?” She asked.

"Nothing. Why?” I replied. I was shocked. Did I look worried? Why ask that question, I wondered.

“There’s something wrong. You look tired and … I don’t know, but there’s something wrong with you, tonight. Tell us.” She was aggressive and persistent. It was her house and everyone was looking at me, waiting for me to figure out what to say.

“I’m really surprised about your question. I don’t think anything’s wrong. Well, maybe I’m worried about the economy, but everyone is, right?” I was baffled that these friends detected the whiff of discontent and self-hatred that I keep sealed behind my protective coating of self delusion.

“How’s your son,” she persisted.

“How’s your mother-in-law?” another friend asked.

“Oh, my gawd,” I thought, “not the mother-in-law question, not tonight.” But, they wanted to penetrate the shield and my m-i-l is an endless source of inferiority and self-doubt, so I talked about her for a good ten minutes, relieving my spleen and giving something juicy to the inquisition. Well, that was what I thought, but not what they wanted.

“I’m glad you opened up, Kathy. Do you feel a little better, maybe?”

I assured my friends that I felt better. It is true. I feel as if the ton of bad feelings is a bit lighter and I am glad to have friends that are willing to sift through my gushing shit and turn some of it into nurturing compost. The rest of this smelly stuff is hanging out there in space, waiting to weasel itself between the jagged edges, making the heart fissure wider. I want to believe that the stuff moved on that night. I want to believe that human kindness and friendly concern smoothed some jagged edges. I want to believe that something as simple as a question and something as complex as a truthful response will bring healing.

I want to believe. Maybe that’s enough.

Friday, October 24

Swirls of Light and Form

"He looked at his own Soul with a Telescope. What seemed all irregular, he saw and shewed to be beautiful Constellations; and he added to the Consciousness hidden worlds within worlds.
- S T Coleridge, Notebooks

Well... I made a video, a slideshow, really and posted it on YouTube. It features my fractal artworks and is a first attempt. Naturally, I'm not satisfied with it and I realize it needs a lot of work. I can't say I enjoyed using the Windows Movie Maker but learning anything new is hard even with such a simple program. By making this video, I certainly appreciate the creations of others so much more and am encouraged to learn more about this media. Anyway, here's the first step toward a new digital direction.

Friday, October 17

Aftermath (2008)..

(Today is April 6, 2022. Fourteen years after I wrote this blog about my impression of the 2008 financial meltdown, I realized how little has changed in our culture and politics. km)

One of my many guilty pleasures is watching "House Hunters" on cable's HGTV channel. Until a year ago, this subject was pretty non-partisan, non-political, non-controversial, and I enjoyed learning about housing prices and expectations in other parts of the nation. My husband and I have worked methodically to get those granite countertops, hardwood floors, extra baths, etc., to get the maximum profit from our comfy retirement nest egg. Well.... it looks like we'll enjoy these tried and true sales amenities for a few years longer now, and we'll postpone retirement for a few more years, if at all. We're just grateful that one of us has a decent job and we can pay bills. The young couple in today's episode was so unbelievably picky. Wrong wall colors, small bath, too close to the railway, ad nauseum. The many choices they examined were not perfect, but their expectations were too high for anything other than the Taj Mahal. I can see that the housing meltdown is spawning a buyers market of unprecedented ugliness. After pondering my new reactions to HGTV, I decided to tune out all "financial crisis" discussions for a while.

That resolution lasted until the Charlie Rose show. I listened to Shelia Bair of the FDIC explain the mechanics of this economic crisis and the huge part housing debt plays in our downfall. I am not surprised about the failure itself, just the timing. I thought we had more time to cash out before this crash, but now we're stuck in the middle, and like millions tonight, I pray we will ride it out in one piece. I recall a surreal moment in 2002 when the "Internet bubble" burst and every newspaper discussed job losses and the post 9/11 economic downturn. At that time, I discussed my recent layoff from a telecom industry giant and the temporary employment job market with my Dad. We had a bite to eat in a mall after seeing a movie. It was mid-week, and the mall was busy. Obviously, lots of people were spending money and were not working. We both were puzzled about this illogical phenomenon. "They're living off the refi's on their houses, I bet," said Dad. "We'll see a lot of foreclosures in a few years at the rate these people are spending." Many citizens, jobless but with homes, did not drastically alter lifestyles (i.e., join the ranks of the poor) but racked up refi and credit card debt to pay bills, take vacations, buy cars, iPods, big-screen TVs, etc. It's been in the news for years. Our republican leaders ignored the warnings and urged us to party like it's 1999 - go, spend, support the economy by buying things was the message, and it worked great for years. In fact, that's what the republicans did by deficit spending us into the poor house. We are witnessing the aftermath of unregulated spend-and-go vs. pay-as-you-go political and financial policies. Consequently, middle classers like me are shocked into cutting back, living with less, lowering expectations, and exploring ways in which to survive an alien world without money.

I am old enough to recall the bleakness of the 70s recession and how living in the middle of Kansas on a commune sounded like heaven at that time. Those were communal, pull-together times, and the light shone at the end of the tunnel despite the deprivation and grimness. Now, it's every republican for himself and let's demonize the poor while branding anyone who suggests "spreading the wealth" as terrorist traitors to the corporate nation. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, and maybe I cling to the unfashionable notion expressed and embodied in Barak Obama's presidential speeches that we all are "our brothers' keepers." I care that everyone is vulnerable to devastation, even those young Reaganite "trickle downers" who scoff at social security programs, safety nets, the notion of the working poor and only worry about their stock portfolios and gun collections. Many of them have families with oldsters like me willing to band together and spread whatever wealth is left to keep afloat.

Maybe this economic meltdown will illustrate how anyone is prey to the ravages of poverty and generate some compassion in a desert of selfishness. Even Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, admitted that the master/slave "trickle-down" economic theory, which allows greed-driven, for-profit entities to self-regulate, is wrong. Electing another republican proponent of this consistent disaster is also wrong. American voters can be like spoiled, clueless homebuyers when it comes to picking a president and complain about the wall color and the street noise while their options for survival dwindle into dust. Or, vote for a workable solution: tax cuts for the little guy, tax increases for the big guys, affordable health insurance to support citizens and businesses, a purpose-driven political agenda, and a desire to stop the partisan self-destructiveness.

It makes sense to have a community activist take charge because "community" is what's been missing in America for a very long time.

May all beings survive and thrive during this tough economy.

Monday, October 6

Making Strides...

Today, two special people I know left the planet. Sandy, a hard working, giving, fun loving mother, aunt and surrogate mother when needed, died of lung cancer. She leaves behind so much love and takes love with her on her next stop in her spiritual journey. Jessica, her niece and my friend, will need support and understanding through these dark days. Bless them both.

A friend's mother passed away, also. She was in her 90s and led a good and satisfying life. Her daughters and son will miss her humor, her nurturing, and her calm, acceptance of life on life's terms. Mary will need lots of love and support. Losing a beloved mother is almost unbearable.

I am saddened for myself when any good person leaves us, but especially sad when that person is fairly young, vibrant and struck down by cancer. There are only a few things in life that I hate and cancer is at the top of that short list. Bless all of those women who have successfully and unsuccessfully fought to overcome breast cancer. So much progress has been made recently because of the unravelling of the human genome and more progress is coming.

I am relieved and happy that my mammogram last month was good and most of my other health tests were good also. I appreciate my grandmother's insights, that "if you have your health, you have everything." No arguments here!!

May all beings know health, love and peace.

Tuesday, September 30

Grist for the Mill

"Everybody has their part in the drama and no part is any better than any other part. They are just parts in the drama." - Ram Dass

A few nights ago, I watched a haunting movie, "Killer of Sheep," about the day to day life of a black family in the Watts section of Los Angeles. I knew very little about this movie other than it contained beautiful black and white film photography and was a classic.

The most striking aspect of the film is the unbiased view of neighborhood - the hood. It shows kids throwing rocks at each other, scampering over hills of debris, building forts, playing, destroying, wrestling, teasing - childhood reality both funny and cruel. My husband and I began to talk about our childhood and the adventures and misadventures we shared with the children in this film. Neither of us were raised in affluence and I suppose we were just steps away from this gut shot community of unemployed, subsistence employed people.

It is a film that shows us how to survive without a safety net, without extras, without a happy future. It is a film that shows the cost of resilience.

Friday, September 26

Strangest Presidential Campaign.. Ever!

Squirrels aren't the only ones going nuts these days....

Now - McCain Decides to Participate in Debate - Then - McCain wants joint town halls, Obama receptive to idea Hey, McCain! Your buddy GWB can handle the economic meltdown without you sitting on his desk. Go... Campaign... Debate.... WTF!!

Here's an interesting take on the US presidential campaign, "The Politics of Pettiness." Shama has written what I've been feeling - We all know that the cult of personality has taken over the leadership debate. The Palin distraction has run its media gauntlet and the Inquirer-obsessed reality show junkies would like to move on to another personality assassination, please!! Someone "hotter" or "dirtier" than Palin will pop up soon - I feel it in my well-honed scandal bones (sigh - Larry Flynt where is that scandal hotline when we need it).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Bush Corporation and its minions (Congress) are circling the wagons and getting ready to blast out of their "Little Big Horn" of economic catastrophe. Scandal, bickering, nonsense really need to be the first casualties in this battle - time is wasting and real issues and problems need to be addressed... Now.

When personalities are removed from the decision process, it gets down to issues and the differences between what republicans stand for and what democrats stand for are clear. I'm voting Democrat.

Last week, a friend of mine went to her bank sporting a "Vote Obama" button.

"You're not really gonna vote for that black muslim are you?" said Mr. Piggy.

"Don't talk to me, please," said Selma.

"I'll talk to whoever I damn well want to talk to and especially to someone about to destroy America," he ranted. He was escorted from the bank by the security guard and Selma decided it was time to volunteer for the Obama campaign headquarters down the street.

Despite the fact that Obama is half-white as well as half black, all "middle of the road," smart, articulate, of good character, and will make a fine President, all this man can see is a darker skin color and a non existant religious affiliation. He and those like him, listen to the king/queens of pettiness, LimbaughCoulterMalkin, lapping up their wet kibbles and bits of manufactured knowledge and embedding ferocious hatred in their hardened arteries and oxygen starved brains. They feel that they have a right to be crude, hateful and ignorant. They can't handle opposing opinions. Logic, reason, facts do not penetrate their shields of religious bigotry, prejudice, blind patriotism and victimhood. They are missionaries at heart and their mission is to convert unbelievers to the cult of personality - and only to the cult of their own choosing. Right now, it's Palin, really. McCain's "maverickness" didn't really pan out so his handlers have foisted Palin on the rest of us.

The McCain campaign cannot seem to rise above non-issues, stunts and "surprises" designed to confuse and distract the voters from a growing accumulation of policy flip flops and outright lies. I am just so grateful that I do not live in a "battleground" state where his special brand of "hard sell" personality attacks and reckless posturing dominate the airwaves. I am tired of being jerked around by this man and I welcome a return to sanity when Obama wins. I wonder when my "absentee ballot" will arrive so I can vote and move on.

Sunday, September 14

A Moment, Please

It's been a rough week. Hurricanes, train wrecks, political idiocy, Russian saber rattling, Latin American saber rattling, Bank of America saber rattling and no end in sight.

So, be quiet for a minute or two and let your mind and heart embrace your homeless, hungry and desperate neighbors. Say prayers, give blood and donate money/time to help end the suffering. Be grateful and count your blessings. Scoop up a brownie, wash it down with an unadulterated classic coca cola, put your feet up and listen to James Taylor and Alison Kraus. That's right. It's time for something sweet and slightly melancholy without an edge.

Here goes...

Saturday, September 6

When White is Black

"What did you think of McCain's presidential acceptance speech?" asked Jo.

'I could not get past his intro of Palin when he said to the..," old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: (that) change is coming."'

"What cool aid are these people drinking. They are the Washington establishment!" We both shook our heads and commented that republicans couldn't even develop their own campaign theme, they had to steal it from the democrats.

I think that McCain/Palin/ Bush/Cheney/Kristol/Rove will say anything to win the presidency and then unleash another four more years of relentless white-is-black, Big Brother, propaganda to distract us from the damage they will inflict on our remaining civil rights and opportunities. There is still a little money in the US treasury to siphon off and with some skillful manipulating, more Americans can lose jobs and houses, run up debt and be imprisoned/controlled while they sell the country to the Chinese or anyone with a big wallet who wants to pick over the carcass of US democracy.

Thursday, September 4

Chinese Junk

"Should we keep these?" Reggie asked. She was sorting through a new donation of children's items and was about to open a sealed box containing toy soldiers and helicopters.

"Where was it made?" asked Jo, our store manager.

"China," Reggie replied as she threw the box into the trash.

Last year, our store headquarters gave us a list of products manufactured in China that are recalled/banned and not available for resale in our thrift store. It is about ten pages long and has not been updated lately, so rather than read through the list and check online updates constantly, we don't resell any toys manufactured in China. On this particular day, we figured out that whoever donated the children's items to us must have known of the military toy ban - yet donated the unopened package to us to pass on to some other kid. Even with government intervention, people persist in hurting themselves and others.

I recall (hehe) this moment in time right now because I cannot get a light fixture we just bought to work properly. It's supposed to be light and motion sensitive so that the outside light goes on after dark for a few hours and then it goes off until motion triggers it. It doesn't work. Sometimes it goes on after dark, sometimes not, and the motion sensor doesn't work at all. It was made in China. So I checked the US Product Safety Commission recall list online and am relieved to know that while the product doesn't work as advertised, it won't blow up or start a fire. While I on this site, I noticed that the majority of recall items are made in China.

When was the last time you or I saw a product label that says "Made in the USA?" We're monster consumers of cheap goods produced somewhere else, and wonder why America's economy is shyte. I wish I could say this is bad and beat the drum for buying "American" but my last very painful experience with GM cars (e.g., Chevette with a leaking gas tank, Pontiac with defective electric windows) has made me cautious about buying big ticket items from American manufacturers. It appears that our Chinese trading "partners" are embracing the American model that has destroyed the US auto industry - make crap until you get caught, then fix the crap until it works and continue to make more crap. This is the "global economy" approach and it's all about the corporate bottom line and very little to do with quality, repeat buying, good word of mouth, customer satisfaction and loyalty - all old fashioned concepts in this wacky and dangerous global economy.

Maybe the Chinese should look at the Japanese manufacturing model which was admittedly deficient in the early 1960s and has blossomed into a manufacturing juggernaut known for quality, value and innovation. America and Japan have become partners over the years, with many of the Toyota/Nissan/Honda cars assembled in the USA, bringing the product cycle full circle.

Meanwhile, how do I disconnect this faulty light fixture and get my money back!!

Saturday, August 30

Wildest Dreamz

Superman: "I'm here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way."

Lois Lane: [Laughs] "You're gonna end up fighting every elected official in this country!"

- Superman (1978)

Yesterday, an election bomb was dropped and it stole Obama's mile-high glow. The oldest candidate to ever run for president, John McCain, announced his choice for running mate and E-V-E-R-Y one wants to know... "Who's Sarah Palin?"

I know women like Palin, feisty, intelligent, principled, family oriented people who have overcome difficulties and succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. I admire people who take on their city council's latest idiocy, who oppose the majority on the school board, who will not vote to convict on a jury because guilt has not been proven beyond their own shadow of a doubt. Such people often prove to be the rare friend to hold your feet to the fire when times are tough and you need a swift kick.

They are not restful, comforting, team building, facilitating individuals - it's their way or the highway and Sarah Palin's firing of staff and government officials who don't toe her political line is just such an example. Mavericks, wild cards, loners, ideologues, trailblazers have their place in our lives and our government, but McCain's VP choice shows not only a desperate need to shake up his campaign and distract the voters from issues, his choice also shows me that he wants that Superhero sidekick of his dreams.

With Palin by his side, they can save the world from the chaos of abortion rights, civil rights, privacy rights, liberal rights...the wrong kind of rights, I guess. She's the perfect sidekick for a comic book world beater, beautiful, athletic, gentle with her kids and a barracuda with her enemies - a kick ass girl who fights for ethical government while using her office to take down her sister's Ex.
She's ready to take on the evil Washington establishment, erm.... well, maybe not all of it since she's a Bush supporter - the most inside of Washington insiders.

According to those that "know", however, she's good for repugnatans because her ultra conservative/anti abortion/ anti environment/ gun loving platform is energizing the religious far right. All McCain and Palin need now is an endorsement by Pat Robertson to really prod the beast.

How can McCain expect us to believe he wants to protect the environment, reduce oil dependence...yadda, yadda, when he chooses a running mate who continues to oppose these views? It's worse than the Bush Oil Cartel.

No more, no way, no how, no McCain.

(9/1/08 pm Postscript: Apparently, Palin is carrying more hot water for the repugnatans - her poor seventeen year old unwed daughter is pregnant. Naturally, the "left wing, liberal bloggernaught" is being blamed by these clueless people for digging up "private" and painful issues about the Palin family. Playing the "blame the liberals" card isn't quite as easy as someone thought it would be, however. Alaska republicans that have tangled with her spread the story first, and naturally bloggers on both sides sniffed it out.

Question: How concerned and caring is Palin, really? She has knowingly subjected her own unwed, pregnant daughter to the merciless glare of public scrutiny rather than suck it up and turn down her path to glory and spare her family what is turning out to be hell. It is just, plain stupid to think that people won't care about her problems and even more bubble headed to think political opponents (both Democrat and Republican) won't use any scandal or misstep against her.

Earlier, I stated that I know women like Palin. Fortunately, I do not know anyone who would do this to their own child.)

Saturday, August 9

Illusion 1 - Reality 0

“Illusions commend themselves to us because they save us pain and allow us to enjoy pleasure instead. We must therefore accept it without complaint when they sometimes collide with a bit of reality against which they are dashed to pieces.”
Sigmund Freud

"Aren't you interested in getting married again and having more kids," Bill asked?

"No. I've thought about it a lot and I'm only having as many kids as I can support by myself. As far as I can tell, I'm set with my one son," I replied thinking what a boring blabber mouth I am. He didn't want the truth and I shrugged when he cracked an arid smile.

"That's sad," he said and he let it drop.

I was in Bill's office discussing ways to collect back child support from my ex. It had been over a year since he gave me his one and only $100 child support payment. He was making money now, touring with a chart topping singer and I felt pretty confident that I could get the courts involved in garnishing his wages, or something.

"Doesn't look good," attorney Bill cautioned.

"When so much time goes by, it looks like you don't need the funds and the courts figure if you're not going to make the effort, neither will they. Can you support your son without his $100 check?" Bill asked.

I remembered the gossip about Bill's really nasty and recent divorce from his stunning, socialite wife, and realized that Bill was not about to stick it to one of the guys. I was glad that I had blabbed my - every woman for herself - procreation philosophy to him. I thanked him for his valuable time and advice, he was a VP in the company I worked for and an okay guy, and then I went for a long smoke break on the roof top of my office building.

I really hated the idea of this reckless man, my ex husband. The concept of someone who is so casual about his child, so ignorant and so bereft of accountability hurt my heart. How could I have fallen in "love" and stupidly gotten pregnant with this alien being. By this time, though, I didn't even have the psychic energy to question his outrageous behavior. It was time to move on and live as if his addictions, neglect, stupidity and weakness were somewhere in the cellar with the unwanted collectibles - too costly to throw out, but not valuable enough to maintain. I began to think of him as a distant and unlovable cousin, someone who would always be in our lives but not in any meaningful way.

I've always resented Bill's harsh words, but even then, I valued their truth. He threw the cold water of reality on my illusions of marriage and fairness. From that time of my life until now, I cannot take love relationships and fair dealings for granted. Love and fairness in everyday life is a gift, not a right.

Much of what has brought me comfort over the years, love, security, trust, loyalty, friendship, family, feels shaky. This lack of confidence in these "god qualities" goes back to my first real conflict with the concept of god. I don't even remember this childhood conversation, but the final result was a recognition that belief is choice. I chose to believe in god. It made me feel happy and a life without god made me feel afraid. It's that simple.

The god qualities people are supposed to express (see list above and add your own stuff) are real. Whenever I run into a person who truly expresses one or more of these qualities, it feels like a miracle. I am blessed and grateful to have a lot of people in my life who choose to explore the god quality realm, and I am glad to explore with them. But....

...there is the dark side. Pain. It hurts so bad when your husband cheats on you. It hurts so bad when your illusion of security is lost, and you have to eat one meal a day instead of three. It really hurts to see the two or three people in your life that you really love suffer and die. People go crazy sometimes trying to endure the daily grind, or smile through their tears, or maintain the facade of competence. There are so many reasons for people to veer off of the god-quality path and into oncoming traffic.

John Edwards, you shit, I am sorry that you lost your grip on reality. You can now accept that you've shattered any illusions the American public may have had about you and you can find something else to do with your life. My hopeful fantasies about you were shattered when you decided to run for president in the first place, even when you knew your wife has terminal cancer.

"Why on earth would he want to run for president instead of be with his wife and family during this terrible time?" I remember asking that question, and like those trippy, toy 8-Balls, the answer rose to the surface.

"He is consumed by ambition. He cannot be trusted."

I wrote him off a long time ago. Now, his wife is another story entirely.

She knows Edwards is not worth the lint in her belly button and now the cat's out of the bag and I wonder how much ambition or illusory "love" she's been hauling around all of these years. I suspect she just wanted to hang on for another few years and end her life with dignity. Bless her. It's not for me to judge or speculate why someone would choose an illusion rather than face reality.

"There but for the grace of God, go I."
- John Bradford

Thursday, August 7

Monday, July 14

Makes Me Wanna Go.. "Hmmmm"...

It's tourist season in Sedona, Arizona. A few days ago, I was moving the hoses outside my mother in law's house, when several bike riders rode past on the road next to the place. Two of them pulled off onto our dirt road and rode up to me. Two guys, shirtless with nice tans and smiles asked if they could refill their water bottles.

"Sure! Where are you from," I asked.
"Norway," said the shorter of the two men.
"Are you enjoying your visit to Sedona?" I asked trying to direct a steady stream of water into their Arrowhead bottles. I looked up and felt a little strange talking to two guys on bikes with sunglasses - an intimate moment without the intimacy.
"What kind of water is this," asked the husky one.
"Well water," I reassured him.
"We heard there is a bike path into town from here. Do you know of it?" Mr. Husky asked.

I directed them up the paved road about two miles and then to 89A.
"Just follow the signs," I advised.

They argued with me a little about the route for some reason. Then they asked about how to get to the Grand Canyon from Sedona and argued with me a little about how long it would take. I was relieved when their water bottles were filled and after showing me their cuts and bruises from a recent crash, I wished them well and went back to moving hoses around. I can't figure out why they argued with me about my directions - maybe a cultural thing, or a language thing, or just for fun.

I'd better get familiar with this area and how to get to and from places - maybe my directional insecurity shows more than I thought.

Thursday, June 26

Out of Place

I don't watch the news on television anymore, not even the PBS Newshour. When I watch Katie Couric, Charles Gibson, Brian Williams... even Jim Lehrer or Gwen Ifill (sometimes but not often), I get irritated.

I feel like I am watching talking heads from another planet discuss how they discuss whatever they feel like discussing. The planet itself is a complex, elegant and astonishing place, but the heads boil it down to a plastic pink bag abandoned in the middle of all of this elegance.

"Wow, look at that pink diaper bag!
"It sure is pink."
"Tell me, Mr. Diaper Bag expert, is pink a safe or toxic color to carry around and what are your opinions about how I report my opinions on this issue?"
"Please, sir. May I have more?"

I guess I've had enough "discussions" about pedophile priests, the sex lives of the rich/famous/congress, gangs, drugs, blah, blah, blah. Let's get anal and examine whatever poop we can scoop from the dregs of the AP or CNN.

We live in a complex, elegant, violent, strange and wonderful world and it's getting smaller. I feel more connected to the BBC news than any US news agency. At least by watching the BBC, I can learn more about Africa, Europe, Russia and South America. I am curious about world cultures, conflicts, economies, developments and can find some useful info on BBC and the internet. If I spoke Spanish or any other language, I am sure I'd get a rude awakening and a deeper appreciation of how the other 99.9% lives.

The only time I get a hint of how the other side lives is when mainstream media reports on itself. A perfect example is a recent PBS report on Al-Hurra, a US State Department television show aimed at the Middle East which is... "surprise" ... not a success in the Middle East! During the discussions, I was able to hear a few truthful words about what the Iraqis, Saudis, Egyptians....(you get the picture) think about the US propaganda machine. It was like someone opened up the pink plastic diaper bag and let a whiff of fresh air inside.

As much as I liked this mildly refreshing debate on the NewsHour, I am still swearing off (literally) mainstream media news. The narcissistic news reporting approach sucks. I don't care if Rush Limbaugh is a drug addict, or Don Imus is a racist, or whether Katie Couric can cut it and neither does the rest of the world, imho. Why can't the media stuff their boring and obnoxious frailties and flaws inside that pink diaper bag and give the rest of us news *gasp* about real issues that affect us and the real world in which we live.

Wednesday, June 11

True Minds

Sonnet 116
by William Shakespeare

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand'ring bark,

Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved."

We have been together more than twenty-five years and each day seems new.

I know big secrets and small quirks about this man. He is stubborn and romantic. He is non-confrontational and thoughtful, methodical really. Logic is important to him, yet he values feelings and the unseen regions of the spirit. He is disciplined and compassionate. He resists change and values loyalty. He understands family bonds and the importance of patience, tolerance and unconditional love.

We can walk together for miles or for just a quick trip to the corner store and find interesting silences and conversation.

He will be my drill instructor but only if I ask him to be and only if he sees results. He accepts me as I am and encourages my forays into areas that may not seem to be "me." He loves me and I love him. We are best friends, forever.

Wednesday, June 4

Mixed Media

I have nothing to say, except, "Yay!"

Sunday, June 1


I am amazed at how quickly one becomes used to grit. Work on adding a second bathroom is progressing. We've passed two inspections, one for rough plumbing and electrical and one for ?wallboard ? Not really sure about the second one, but things went without a hitch. The workers are fast and steady. They try to be as neat and considerate as is possible while maintaining the pace, but .... GRIT, plaster dust, wallboard crud, muddy shoe prints and other even less pleasant residue permeate my residence. Fortunately, I have work to do and places to go to avoid constant close contact with the dirt. I am also fortunate to have family and friends who know how to do stuff like this and they reassure me that the worst is over and hallelujah time is nearing.

In some ways, I am convinced that these messy and necessary projects bind my husband and me together. We really enjoy projects and the bickering, compromising, stretching, groaning and accomplishment that goes along with each one of them. It seems like this energy spills over into other areas of our lives and gets us thinking about possibilities - that "can do" spirit I suppose. Anyway, the rubber duckie will soon have a new home and cleanliness will reign supreme again!

Thursday, May 15

Step by Step

I feel overwhelmed today. Our family is going to add a second bathroom and the work begins next Monday. Much of this addition is my idea, including the space we are allocating. It is my office! Yup - the space filled with my cameras, books, family finance information, PC, fax, main phone, printer, scanner..... lots of important stuff.

So... I am in the midst of mental and physical chaos and need to be more productive and less free-form. I am realizing for the hundreth time how creative one must be to find the right place for everything and to work within timelines. If I focus on the goal and visualize the joy of having two nice bathrooms and a new, open office/den area, I find it easier to figure out the steps in between. Everything will get done and life is good!

Thursday, May 8


Some friends from Los Angeles visited the Amazon last month and raved about the beauty of this wild place. They were astonished at the abundance of plants, animals, birds and insects.

"You can't image the huge flocks of birds in the Amazon," said Sandy.

"Insects are everywhere including the most poisonous ants in the world. Herds of monkies followed us which was scary because we weren't used to seeing so many animals in one place." She went on to describe the fish and spiders they saw and how the wildness of this massive river area was in jeopardy because of the effects of deforestation and global warming. She also explained how strict the Brazillian government is about conserving and protecting its natural resources which was hopeful. In fact, recent studies report that the consumers of Brazil and India are among the most environmentally conscious and that US consumers are the least conservation oriented.

These facts and other things I've observed over the years cause me to question American values that promote a bigger house, more possessions, convenience, and a disdain for non-American people, places and things. George W. Bush is a perfect representative of this value set and his dismissal of global warming in the face of worldwide scientific and government pressure is pure USA. Even the American concept of "recycling" seems to be a band aid trying to cover up the creeping destruction of greed. It does nothing to suggest a drastic change in how Americans live, work and entertain themselves. Recent insanity is the biofuels energy fad - slapping down the more intelligent and planet friendly solar energy solution. So, even when Americans think they are responding to a crisis, we are creating one - food shortages!

I'm not one to talk, though. I'm American to the core. I'm an overweight, white woman living in the most selfish and resource-guzzling city in the world so I'm not a model of intelligence and restraint. Over the past few years, I've become much more appreciative of those "impoverished" nations that manage to survive on air. It takes real intelligence, effort and spirit to live with a harsh and pitiless mother nature. There is no doubt that I prefer my world to be clean (i.e., able to use lots of water), healthful (i.e., able to use pesticides, drugs, toxic cleansers to kill bugs, bacteria), convenient (i.e., lots of energy burning and smog producing cars, technology, waste), and fun (i.e., no physical exertion except a visit to the gym, movies, DVDs, CDs, TVs...). When I envision a world of hard work, stuggle and limitation which is what most of the world accepts and appreciates, I realize what a hypocrite I am for criticizing the lifestyle that I love.

However, it is time to "bite the bullet" as a famous and reviled former US president once said and the only way to do that under the eco-unfriendly Bush regime is to make small changes voluntarily. I am pleased to report that the small changes ( see recent blog) have resulted in a good sized savings in utilities usage and costs. I am training myself to think as if I lived in the middle of the desert, with limited water and energy resources. Wait a minute!! I do live in the middle of the desert - hmmm.

So... Kudos to Brazil and India for their tangible love of our mother earth and for providing an example of responsible stewardship of our precious resources.

Monday, May 5

Chaos of Nargis

Sometimes, the world is a small, sad place. The cyclone that hit Burma on Saturday has caused thousands of deaths and injuries and reports of devastation have been on the news for days.

The natural elements of our world are our source of order and chaos. Nature teaches us that growth is hard, change is inevitable, sentient beings strive for balance and harmony, the cycle of life includes transcendence. From this chaos will come enlightenment.

I focus on healing, wholeness, balance and harmony for our brothers and sisters in Burma, in the USA's Midwest, in the war zones, in the famine stricken areas. Wherever chaos reigns, may all beings know love and peace.

Thursday, May 1

Good Bush for Bad Times...

"Pedro: Hey how am I driving, man?
Man Stoner: [looks around] : I think we're parked."- Cheech & Chong in the 1978 movie "Up in Smoke"

"Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been used by nearly 80 million Americans. According to government surveys, some 20 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year, and more than 11 million do so regularly despite harsh laws against its use." - NORML Faqs

(Hmmm, that's a lot of people who like pot)

"..,Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency toward obstructed airways. Cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs may also be promoted by marijuana smoke. Marijuana has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke." - ONDCP Marijuana Facts

(Our government is protecting us from the potential of cancer by arresting us for using or selling it.)

'The largest study of its kind has unexpectedly concluded that smoking marijuana, even regularly and heavily, does not lead to lung cancer. The new (2006) findings "were against our expectations," said Donald Tashkin of the University of California at Los Angeles, a pulmonologist who has studied marijuana for 30 years.'

(Erm.... our government may not be 100% right about the health hazards of pot and may or may not make amends to those people who have been harmed by lengthy prison sentences for felony possession of mj.)

Earlier today, several internet blogtrackers (reddit, digg, fark) posted the news item above which was published in 2006. Why is this such a popular news item - two years later.

Hmmm.... maaybeee the public needs a little ray of sunshine to get past the pain of two horrendous U.S. invasions/occupations on top of a crap economy; or, maybe there is a growing interest in a lucrative home business which sells something that does not cause cancer; or, maybe plans are afoot (via Barney Frank and Ron Paul) to decriminalize weed and good pot PR might just be the assist needed. Or, all of the above!

I'm not crazy about the idea of FDA approval of more drugs and I dread adding more mind numbing clutter to the airwaves. Even if pot ads do not materialize on TV, my head is trying to wrap itself around billboards, bus benches, hell... buses with "killer weed" ads. What would be welcome is decriminalizing something less harmful that cigarettes and beer.

Bottom line....

“Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”
William F. Buckley, Jr.

Friday, April 25

Tuesday, April 22

Small Things Matter

Happy Earth Day!

Today is filled with lots of activities to promote a cleaner, healthier and more resiliant environment. Most of us recognize, however, that every day is earth day, and this realization is critical to our existence. We also realize that only a small percentage of us are environmental activists and that most of us are regular people focused on day to day challenges. The days of feeling useless and overwhelmed when faced with global warming and global environmental doom are over for me. I do what I can and appreciate that small things matter when conserving the earth's resources.

Our household has made many small changes in our lifestyle: using compact flourescent bulbs, lowering heating and raising cooling temps, walking to stores, movies, etc., using less water (e.g., five minute showers, full dishwashers, cold water clothes washing, water lawns twice a week or less), and fewer road trips. Larger lifestyle changes are a win/win such as buying a hybrid car and using public transportation more often. The earth benefits from a reduction in carbon emissions and we benefit from a decrease in fuel expenses.

Now... on to solar water heaters,backyard wind mills and more!

Thursday, April 17


Sweet little flower, bright, colorful and available!

I showed my friend how to use my little Canon Powershot the other day. It was fun showing and telling her how to do something I now take for granted.

Plus... it was a really nice day for a walk.

Sunday, March 23


Friday, March 14

Do We Have a Choice?

Come on people!

I was getting my hair done today, and my stylist asked what I thought about the political "situation."

"Don't get me started," I joked.

She wasn't joking. She really wanted some direction and a reasoned opinion, not the typical "every politician is crap" kind of political analysis.

"What choice do we have?" I asked. "Could you seriously vote for another Republican after eight years of almost total Republican power/government?" I wondered.

"Keep focused on deeds not words," I advised. "Vote Democrat and work with your local representatives."

She felt disappointed with the bickering and lack of direction in the Democratic party these days. I am not jumping for joy about the Pelosi strategy either. But, the Republican controlled Congress has not held the White House accountable for the past six years and it is unreasonable to expect the new Democrat majority to turn back the hands of time and correct years of corruption, incompetence and neglect.

The presidential campaign is putting a huge, ugly spotlight on the fractured Democrats, though, killing whatever hope we have for a clear choice. We need clarity and a political platform that carves a pathway through the Republican sludge toward a government that cares about the health, financial stability and progress of the American people and the world. Both Clinton and Obama seem willing to deliver a more people-centered government vs. corporate centered and that's a huge improvement. I'm willing to vote for either of them, but the DNC is letting this message get buried under mounds of politicking.

I question how Democratic party leaders can allow anything to jeopardize the opportunity to solidify the party and come up with one person, develop one strong platform and become the political juggernaut needed to defeat the repugnatans. Two strong candidates with the same message?!! No wonder the campaign has degenerated into a sexist, racist, debate. This is not what Americans want to consider in making their decisions about who will govern us. So, we now have confusion where there should be clarity. Whenever the voters are confused, they stick with more of the same. Oh, we've got trouble...with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for "Pain."

My anti-Republican ace-in-the-hole, however, is gas prices. Now that's trouble!

Wednesday, March 5

ESP Anyone?

I just saw an interesting video about net neutrality on YouTube, titled "Save the Internet" by Human Lobotomy.

I suppose I should be more worked up about the government/corporate take over of this beautiful example of peaceful, self-regulated, free flowing, human interchange. I'm not worked up, though. I feel anxious and resigned that the corporate government of America is mucking up the world wide web. I would like to get mad, get active, and successfully protect this "level playing field" of communication, but the "enemy" has all the time, money and spite in the world and can wait us out as they have in past conflicts.

A YouTube commenter has it right when he/she predicted the American response to this threat.

"They'd first have to pass a bill via congress, and the American people would uprise and they'd feel the backlash and back down just like they did with amnesty, It will never happen."

This video does a good job of giving historical perspective to the current advertising infestation which is threatening the energy and convenience of web surfing. As an example, Blogger/Google offers adsense as a means of making money for interested bloggers. I don't accept the offer. I just feel that too few people visit and so why junk up my site with flashing, attention grabbers that are mostly ignored. For sites that get more traffic, using adsense is perfectly fine so long as there are no noisy pop-ups and malware involved. See how this works? I choose to babble without remuneration and others choose to get paid to babble. Works great!

According to this video, the real danger to the internet is the double whammy of corporate greed combined with government control - self regulation goes out the window, choice is banned in order to protect the virtual world from terrorists and pedophiles, and the whammies kill off a good thing that delivers a nice ROI for most normal corporations, without infuriating the citizens of this virtual world. "Hamfisted" is the first word to enter my stream of consciousness about this issue. Visualize the whammies with their huge hamfists pummelling bloggers, ebayers, flickrers and twitterers, to name a few, and the phrase "save the internet" becomes appealing. We won't loose the internet - it will change, though. The evolution of newspapers, radio, film, and television is a template for the world wide web and we know it includes loud beer commercials and sexless car ads-just one hair short of relentless spam. Not pretty, and I hope I'm wrong.

Hmmm, ESP anyone?!

Thursday, February 28


"Are you mad at Mr. Ulbrecht, Dad?"

"No, Kathy. Why?" My father appeared to be mildly interested despite the Sunday drivers cutting in front of him and muttered about the almost empty gas tank. We were on our way to early Mass, just Dad, one of my older brothers and me. The summer air was still cool despite the rising Arizona sun and it was a delicious, intimate, quiet moment.

"Because you were arguing about the election, yesterday, and you both always seem to argue about the government. " I reminded him.

My father and the father of one my best friends, Lynn Ulbrecht, seemed complete opposites.

Physically, Buster (Mr. Ulbrecht), was a sun browned, compact, muscular man with an intriguing tattoo on one of his forearms and hair so short, he seemed bald. I cannot recall his occupation but I believe it was in construction or air conditioning, work that required him to be outside. His greatest joy was to work outside in his backyard during the hottest part of a summer day, sweating and making something useful with his hands. Whenever I spent the night at Lynn's house during the summer, the swamp cooler went off at 10:00 pm, despite the temperatures in the high 90s - it was hell.

My father was a music teacher. He was stocky, fairly tall, and avoided the sun which burned the bejeebus out of his fair, Irish skin. (Unfortunately, I inherited this cursed skin and have suffered numerous bouts of sun poisoning and permanent sun damage.) He enjoyed making things with his hands and I think this was what attracted Buster and Vince to each other initially.

What kept this friendship going was their ability to talk politics. Buster was a "Goldwater" Republican and in Arizona at that time, it was a position slightly right of God. Dad was one of the few "Union" liberals in our neighborhood, anathema to the Republican majority. While Buster was normally a low-key, quiet person, he would begin to roar whenever Dad would bring up the latest government scandal. My Dad was usually the instigator, although I remember Buster laying in wait a time or two where he would offer Dad the obligatory coffee, hustle him over to the newspaper pointing out the latest Washington scandal that made the Democrats look bad, and then they'd be out the door to his shop. By the time they were "in the back" the whole house could hear the "debate." Mrs. Ulbrecht would close the back door, crank up the cooler, and turn up the volume of her favorite Montavani record, knowing that the debate would continue for at least the next hour.

This pattern continued for quite a while and both men seemed to enjoy what Dad called a spirited political discourse until "the argument." I never paid any attention to what the elders were doing, except in my mental peripheral vision and on that Saturday, I sensed a decided animosity. The dynamic of the political discussion seemed to change from debate to argument, and I recall Mrs. Ulbrecht having to break out some sweet rolls and coffee to distract them from waving any further red flags in front of their bullish selves. It was the only time I heard Mrs. Ulbrecht scold, ever so slightly, and I noticed that Mr. Ulbrecht was very resistant to this scolding.

A line had been crossed. This dark moment reminded me of times when my brothers would wrestle around with each other until someone poked an eye or shoved an elbow into a gut and the whole "wrestle" dynamic would change to punching, gouging and intentional hurting. An elder would intervene and I soon learned that friendly wrestling had to have strict rules vigorously enforced.

I didn't realize it at that time, but in hindsight, I know that that ferocious argument was the beginning of the end of my friendship with Lynn, and killed Dad's friendship with Buster. I don't recall what political landscape these two men got themselves into, but it was during the time of the Viet Nam war, and many such friendships were fractured and/or destroyed over this conflict.

Yesterday, William F. Buckley died. Like Barry Goldwater, he was an icon of modern U.S. political conservatives who managed to gather together the more coherent voices on the far right while adroitly shunning the the bible thumpers and white supremacists. By excluding the conservative "fringe" he was able to form an actual movement which avoided, until now, perhaps, self destructing. Buckley was a human template of "spirited political debate" and his "Firing Line" television segments always seemed to have the necessary rules and enforcements to avoid the vicious gouging and pettiness in lesser political debate programs. I seldom agreed with him. I admired his questions, yawned through many of his tedious and overblown responses, but always respected his desire for cut-throat debate vs. brass-knuckle argument. He was an interesting and magnetic personality.