Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Arriving Again and Again Without Noticing

A poem of thanksgiving at midlife.

Arriving Again and Again without Noticing

I remember all the different kinds of years.
Angry, or brokenhearted, or afraid.
I remember feeling like that
walking up the mountain along the dirt path
to my broken house on the island.
And long years of waiting in Massachusetts.
The winter walking and hot summer walking.
I finally fell in love with all of it:
dirt, night, rock and far views.
It's strange that my heart is as full
now as my desire was then.

--Linda Gregg

This year, in the midst of financial hardship and two wars and more bad news than we can possibly process, it may be hard to remember how grateful you are for your life. I am grateful for mine. I am thankful for the simple but priceless things in my life: my dog; a good bed; warm clothes; meaningful and creative work; hearty friendships; my brother and his children; and as always, my beloved. I have so much to be happy about regardless of how old I am, how I look, or how much I don't make. You can't buy love nor happiness - and I have both.

What more can I say? Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wacko Pugs, installment four: albino pugs!

Welcome to Wacko Pugs IV where today we feature albino pugs. Yes, they do exist, as evidenced below:

Look at those sweethearts! You know you want some.

I never thought I'd see a white pug with blue eyes. Kind of strange, but he's still a darn good looking dog. How interesting that the following albino pug gave birth to a fawn pup - evidence of the recessive albino trait.

But a pug is still a pug, and they all sleep their lives away - they're worse than cats. Don't look at this picture too long or you'll starting zzz-ing, too.

To learn more about white pugs, visit the Pugs of Pedroia and And check out my other wacko pug posts: Installments 1, 2, and 3.

Don't miss "A Common Canvas - Pennsylvania's New Deal Post Office Murals"

I got a nice email this morning from Dave Lembeck, a fellow New Deal post office mural lover. (Read my posts about the Rockville and the Silver Spring murals.)

Dave has had the great good fortune to travel around Pennsylvania with Michael Mutmansky photographing the artwork. He writes,

I've been researching PO art for about 14 years and a while ago hooked up with an amazing photographer and we started shooting PO murals and sculptures in PA. I'm a designer and our plan was to do a nice coffee table book... Everything was going fine until last summer when we were told we couldn't shoot anymore, seems the USPS wants to control the use of the images! Anyway, two years ago the State Museum of PA contacted us saying they wanted to do a big exhibit in 2008, the 75th anniversary of the New Deal. We've been working away at it for months and it opens tomorrow.
The exhibit runs from November 23, 2008 through May 17, 2009 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. I'm definitely going! To learn more about the exhibit, visit the website or view the flyer (which was created by Dave, a professional graphic designer and a man after my own heart).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What I'd do with my last tourniquet

The US automakers' CEOs, otherwise known as America's New Jet Set, winged their way to Washington yesterday to beg Congress for yet another bailout. I won't venture an opinion about the sensibility of this proposed bridge loan because I haven't made up my mind yet. But I will tell you that Rep. Gary Ackerman is my new new hero. As reports, Ackerman performed a superb dressing down of the execs yesterday:

"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious. Couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet- pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."
Ackerman went on to say:

"Maybe you can tell us what you're actually going to do to sell cars people want. Somebody heard that we're giving out free money in Washington. They're showing up from all over the place. But you don't want to put your last tourniquet on a dead guy."
You go, Gary! Every once in a while, an elected official speaks the truth. Rep. Ackerman's concise, populist critique of American fat cats underscores the abject hypocrisy inherent in all these economic bailouts. Somehow, the rich stay rich or get even richer while everyone else heads to hell in the proverbial handbasket.

I'm so pleased with Rep. Ackerman that I'd give him my last tourniquet even if ready to gasp his last breath. We need more people like Ackerman looking out for us - and speaking the God's honest truth. Thank you, sir.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flush Joe the Plumber, Part Deux

Unbeige today reports:

Politics aside, there's one name/phrase we hope to never have to hear or talk about ever again (which will hopefully be the case after this post). That, of course, being "Joe the Plumber," the absurd moniker of one Joe Wurzelbacher, who is a plumber. As you may have heard during the battle for the White House, Joe was busy trying to stretch out his temporary fame by writing a book. Now that book is available for pre-order ..."
The name of this heralded tome? Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream.

Let me get a few things straight. First, Joe the Plumber isn't really named Joe; his name is Sam. And he didn't write this book either. A "spiritual novelist" named Thomas N. Tabback penned this stinker.

Finally, how exactly has Sam the Perpetual Fame Seeker fought for the American Dream? By creating a truly dreadful website that, for the nominal fee of $14.95, lets you sign up for the "Freedom Membership" which has the following "benefits:"

  • Total Access to "Joe The Forum" where you may chat directly with Joe
  • Subscription to the "Joe The Blog" monthly newsletter
  • Free Shipping on all "Joe The Plumber" merchandise
  • Free Signed Copy of Joe's forthcoming book "Joe The Plumber" - Fighting for the American Dream (Paperback slated for release December 1, 2008)
  • Become an integral part of an American movement to restore our government to the people
Know what I would like to do? Become an integral part of an American movement to restore Samuel Wurzelbacher to complete anonymity. I hate JTP so much, I won't give you the link to his book. And please don't go look it up. I can't take another 15 seconds of this dude's excruciating 15 minutes of fame. As I said in my last JTP rant, it's long past time to flush Joe the Plumber.

Goodbye Cresthaven Elementary

Yesterday, I had the bittersweet pleasure of attending a goodbye party for my elementary school. When I first enrolled in Cresthaven Elementary in 1964, the school resembled a new ranch house with a (what was then) hip, mid-century design; flat roof; multiple rectangular, plate glass windows; and incredibly spare ornamentation.

The school is almost exactly as I remember it, all the way down to the folding lunch tables stored in the front of the all-purpose room. The library found its way down the hall to larger quarters and renamed itself as a "media room" (ack!), but otherwise the school appears to have completely avoided evolution.

Until now. The Montgomery County Public Schools is tearing the building down in January and replacing it with a three-story "green" primary educational facility. That certainly sounds like a MCPS thing to do; in fact, they tore down my junior high school a couple of years ago and now are in the process of rebuilding it. So while my alma mater is still standing, I decided to make one last trip to the school.

When I was a child, Cresthaven sported ubiquitous Maryland landscaping: green grass, misshapen azaleas, and spindly oak trees. Those oaks are now gentle giants who inspired a rush of childhood remembrance: my saddle-shoed feet plowing through ever-abundant brown, brittle oak leaves and their companion acorns. Those sturdy seeds looked like tiny heads just waiting for a face. I liked to play with acorns, popping the woody tan hat to expose the acorn's bald spot and then searched diligently for telltale worm holes. Rolling the acorn around in my palm, I tried in vain to break the shell, settling finally for pressing the pointy neck deep into my thumb. Even then, I marveled that such a tiny seed could one day produce a glorious tree. Thinking back, I realize I was also a resilient, little acorn just waiting to grow.

And grow I did. Under the careful tutelage of my elementary school teachers - Mrs. Ness, Mrs. Bauer, Ms. Cochran, Miss Beasley, and Mr. Ritter - I received a simply stellar education. God bless you all - and thank you. I pray the students who attend the new, improved Cresthaven Elementary get even half the education I did. If they do, they will most certainly grow into mighty oaks themselves.

Monday, November 3, 2008

You know the campaign is almost over when...

... eBay's featured items are Cabbage Patch candidate dolls. I knew something was missing from this big, beautiful world, but I didn't think it was this.

Sarah Palin, the big winner in the auction (but likely not the election), is currently priced at an unbelievable $9,800 - almost the cost of one of her designer suits!

Fortunately, 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. According to the accompanying eBay page, "Each is fashioned in classic ‘Kid™ style to resemble the U.S. Democratic and Republican candidates for President and Vice President. These are the only ones of their kind in existence and are available only on eBay. Own a piece of history!"

Sadly, I'm going to have to pass. Our dire economy leaves me a bit short this month for five-figure, 1980s-throw-back dolls.

But I can't help noticing that while Palin and Obama are very identifiable, McCain and Biden are virtually interchangeable. You know how it is... those old, white, balding guys... they all look alike. ;-)

Happy Election Day Eve, gang. Curl up with your Cabbage Patch doll and get some sleep. Tomorrow night we'll be up late watching campaign results - and truly witnessing history.