Saturday, June 20, 2009

Back home, happy, and tired

But oddly energized. Maybe it was the Diet Cokes I had at breakfast.

It was so great to see Bill and Mary Sue. They really are the nicest people, and it was wonderful to get caught up with them and talk about what is going on with all of us. Their twins, Amy and Beth, are beautiful and kind young women (although not so little, and a Silver Squirrel to anyone who gets that reference!), and it was a pleasure to see them all. After dinner, we made an early night of it because Ken wasn't feeling well (he had some creamed herring for a snack that day, and I think that was probably a bad idea), but met for breakfast this morning and had more good conversation. One of the nicest things for me was having Bill--who has known Ken for years--tell me that the first time he met me, he told Mary Sue, "I like her." It just meant a lot for me to hear one of Ken's very good friends say that, you know?

A quick trip back from Monroe, and a stop to see Ken's Mom and stepdad. We had a nice visit, and Ken got their DVD player up and running so they can watch "Gran Torino." We were happy to get home and see Sheeba, who was quite happy to see us, too. Cousin Shane took good care of him, as always, and Sheeba is sitting contentedly by us. He's a good boy.

When I called Mom to let her and Dad know that we made it home okay, she told me that FM has been talking to Cheater Husband (heretofore known as CH) and they might be trying to work things out.

[expletive deleted]

Another FM called me later, and we talked about it for quite a while. My feeling is that while I will support whatever decision FM makes, that doesn't mean I want to or have to be around CH. I think it best that I NOT be around him, and Ken said the same thing...that if he were in the same room with him, his first reaction would be to pick the guy up by his shirt collar, slam him against the wall, and say, "Don't EVER talk to my wife that way again." BOO-yah! Ken and I are in agreement that we don't want to be around the guy, and it's probably best that we not be in the same room with him. I told Ken that the moment I caught CH looking at me weird, I'd be all up in his face and saying, "Don't you fucking look at me that way, and get the fuck away from me." Sorry, but I was almost apoplectic at the thought of FM taking this asshole back. I told Other FM that it was interesting that although CH said that he'd decided to forgive me, I've gotten no phone call (or even an email) from him. If you've decided to forgive someone, don't you let them know about it yourself, rather than relaying the message through another? Other FM asked me, "If he did call you up and apologize, what would you do?" I said, "Sorry. No one treats my FM that way, or talks about my parents that way, and gets a free pass. Apology not accepted."

I guess I'm stubborn that way.

I apologized to Ken for the family drama, and he knows how much I hate it. He said, "It's not like I have any family drama going on!" Good point, and he's a peach.

More soon about our trip, including pictures, but a quick, early Happy Father's Day to all! I love my Dad, and I’ll be happy, pleased, and proud to tell him so tomorrow. We’ll have the ‘rents over on Wednesday for a cookout, and I know we’ll have a great time!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sugar High

Ken and I met up with Mark this morning and headed down to Greek Town to visit Mark's favorite place in the city: Astoria Bakery. Oh. my. goodness. I had a cheese danish that was SO good, and then I had a mini Key Lime pie, because I can't pass up Key Lime pie! The cheese danish was so huge that by the time I finished with everything, I was almost overcome with the sugar rush. I rarely eat that much sweets! It was so cool to share that with Mark, because I could tell how much he loves the place. The pastries...the (Yes, pictures were taken. Please be patient while we are under construction, or at least out of town. :) Parting is such sweet sorrow, and it made me sad to say farewell to Mark. I look forward to our next meeting...and it should be interesting to see where that will be!

We drove around downtown for a bit, then headed a little out of town and got into some of the "urban blight" area. It made me so sad. I told Ken that it made me feel down driving through it, so what must it be like to grow up in it and be immersed in it every single day? One of the many things we talked about with Mark was the sad demise of so much of this great city. All in all, I felt it was a positive experience, and they have done much to renovate and renew downtown...but what about those who live in other areas? I'm sure I'll have more to write about this after we get back home. It's a fascinating subject to me, and although Detroit isn't the only city to go through this (Gary, in my own state, springs immediately to mind), the effects have been very profound. I'm hoping that I got some good pictures of the old Cass Tech high school (Is that right? And who mentioned going there? Was it Mark? Someone mentioned it recently.), which looks abandoned and forlorn, but is still a beautiful building architecturally. The new school is built right next to it, but the old structure remains. Why am I so fascinated by old, abandoned buildings?

We're in Monroe now, and spent a couple of hours at a place at the harbor before we could check into the hotel. It is mayfly season by the lake, and we watched with amusement as swallows dived and plucked the mayflies out of the air and off of the windows. It was a smorgasbord for the swallows! An employee went out and revved up a leaf blower and blew all the mayflies off of the windows. They quickly began to settle back on the windows...and all over the poor guy's T-shirt. Ugh! Ken said that lots of mayflies are an indicator of a healthy lake. I said, "Well, that is one healthy lake!"

We'll head over to Bill and Mary Sue's house in a little over an hour. Oh, Alaina, we were planning on visiting the place you recommended! But when we got on the road, 75 South was closed, and we made a big loop, getting onto 275 after we'd passed Hamtramck. We didn't have an atlas with us to find an alternate route. I was bummed, because it sounded neat, and I thank you for the recommendation! Perhaps next time. If you and Mr. Mischief go soon, I'll look forward to seeing your pictures! I love the description of it...that the way the elements of the installation play in the breeze is part of a kinetic artwork. Very cool.

Maybe more tonight, but if not, we'll be back at Nutwood tomorrow. This has been a very fun trip, and I got to see some sights that I had not seen before. I'm always happy when that happens!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

And on the seventh day, God created IMAX

Still no pictures for you. I took some today, but I'm too tired and mellow to mess with them tonight. A margarita or two might have contributed to my mellowtudinousness. You know what she is, no doubt about it, she's a bad bad girlfriend blogger!

It was a fab day with my hubby and our pal Mark! The Trek exhibit was so cool, and wait till you see the picture of us on the bridge of the Enterprise...! I think my favorite was the Guardian of Forever, a full-size replica of the gateway to yesterday from my all-time favorite episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever." (Jim has to let Joan Collins die in order to preserve his and the earth's future. Now that I think about it, why was that such a hard decision?) Both Ken and I stepped through the portal, and we should be getting back to normal soon. (Why are you laughing? I don't see what's so funny. Jeez.) I'd be lying if I said that I didn't get teary-eyed seeing the Guardian. After the exhibit, we walked a few blocks to the Majestic, where we had some cool amber beverages outside on their patio (because it was a beautimous day!) and got to talk "up close and personal." (Get that reference, Mark?) Then we made our way back to the Science Center, because we had tickets for the 4:30 showing of the new "Star Trek" movie at...get this...their IMAX THEATER! Yes, we got to see it on an IMAX screen, and man, did that ever make my day!

After the movie we went to Mexican Town to Mark's favorite Mexican restaurant, and it was some of the best Mexican food I've ever had. The chunky beef burrito was SO good. We had so much fun talking with Mark, and he's a total peach. We are definitely batting a thousand when it comes to meeting up with blogger friends--first Marty, and then Mark. We hope to continue our winning streak, and a name starting with M is not a requirement...but we're coming for you, Myraaaa...ha!

We're planning on a visit to the Astoria bakery with Mark tomorrow morning, and then Ken and I hope to do some picture-taking before we head to Monroe to see Bill and Mary Sue. Got a few pictures today of the old train depot, but I'd love to get some more. We'll see what we can scare up tomorrow. A great day in Motown! As much as I love the quiet and solitude of Nutwood, I still love being in a city once in a while. It's a whole different experience, and I had a great time today just walking in midtown.

More soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nutwood meets the Motor City: Worlds Collide!

I took a couple of pictures on the way up, but I'm too lazy to download and edit them tonight, so you'll have to wait!

An uneventful and fairly quick trip up--made it in about three hours. I didn't realize we are that close to Detroit! We're staying in Dearborn, and we're right by Ford headquarters. I sensed a smile on Blacky's grill (Blacky is Ken's Mustang) as we drove by his "birthplace." Who says you can't go home again?

Checked in with Mark and made arrangements for tomorrow--we're both excited about meeting him and I know we're going to have fun tomorrow! The only thing better than Star Trek is experiencing Star Trek with friends. :)

We drove down the road a piece and had dinner at BD Mongolian Barbecue. Ken has eaten at one of these before, but I never had, and I'm ready to start a letter-writing campaign to get one in our neck of the woods! Man, that was some great stuff, and although we don't eat out often, we'd go there once in a while. And yes, we used chopsticks, because that's the way we roll. (Haven't done that for Jamie in quite a while.)

Live long and prosper, my friends!

Detroit Rock City

Wow, nice camera work. I'm so dizzy...I think I’m gonna barf.

We’ll be heading out this afternoon, so next post will be from D-town!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A million tweets = One big roar

Slug trap Thanks to those who mentioned beer traps for garden slugs. I have two just like this. The slugs smell the beer in the wells, crawl up that little slope, and fall into the beer and drown. (At least they die happy!) They work amazingly well, and after a couple of days, the trap will be crammed with slugs. It's disgusting. What was even more disgusting was one year when I dumped the trap by where the marsh starts, and when I went out the next day...something had eaten them all. Ewwww! Anyhoo, yes, beer traps really work! I didn't need to use them this year, because I didn't plant lettuce, and that seems to be what they really go after here.

It rained most of the day here, although Ken was able to get the lawn mowed. I'm actually happy to see a good, soaking rain, because it's giving the garden a drink! We'll be leaving for Detroit tomorrow afternoon, and returning on Saturday. I think I'll take my laptop, so I should get an update or two in there somewhere. We'll be meeting up with our pal Mark of Stars Like Grains of Sand in My Pocket and attending the Star Trek exhibit at the Detroit Science Center, plus seeing the new "Star Trek" movie. Mark hasn't seen it yet, so I know he'll enjoy it! I anticipate a dinner somewhere that will include lots of talk about his plans, our lives here at Nutwood, and we should be able to solve a world problem or two while we're at it. [grin] On Friday, we'll travel to Monroe to meet our friends Bill and Mary Sue. Ken used to work with Bill when Ken lived in Michigan. They're such nice people, and even came down for our wedding in 2001. That meant a lot to both of us, and we're looking forward to seeing them again. We'll have plenty to catch up on, believe me! I think they will be quite stunned to hear about some of the things that have happened since we last met up.

Wish we could see some of our other peeps in the Detroit area--Alaina, Tawnya, Linda...did I miss anyone? This is a short trip, though, so we might have to save that for the next one! I'm looking forward to visiting Detroit. I've never been there before, only to Dearborn many years ago.

Iran election Like many of you, I've been following the protests that are taking place in Iran following the election. It's pretty obvious that Ahmadinejad stole the election, but I think it's unlikely that anything will be overturned. What is remarkable is to see the thousands of people that have mobilized to showed their support for the opposition, and displeasure with the current regime. It's also frightening to see the violence and rioting, and the pictures of state police beating protesters. I ask again: does anyone really want to see that in our own country? We need to strive for peaceful change, not violent revolution. Take a look at some of these pictures. If you're like me, you will get a feeling of gratitude that we live where we do, as well as a profound respect for those Iranians who are protesting the regime that they find oppressive and backward. I salute them and hope that there will be no more deaths at the hands of the state police.

Twitter logo The other amazing element in this story is what a huge part the Net has played. As explained in this piece, the Iran government clamped down on media and Net access...but they forgot about Twitter. Although they've tried to shut that down, too, the unique nature of Twitter (from what I understand, it's highly configurable, and user-generated content is a large part of it) means that people found "work-arounds" in order to tweet about the conditions on the ground in Iran. I was stunned to pull up #iranelection and see the thousands of tweets. Just in the time it took me to read a few--perhaps all of a minute--there were over one thousand additional tweets. It was awesome to me, in the truest sense of the word. I've never seen anything like it.

At the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, protesters shouted "The whole world is watching!" as the protests became violent, and TV cameras beamed the images around the world. The 2009 protests in Iran will go down in history as an almost participatory worldwide protest. I couldn't do much, but I changed my time setting on Twitter to show that of Tehran, in order to make it harder for the Iranian government to try to track down those who are tweeting "illegally" in the country. Something that the oppressive government there--and in other countries around the world--has yet to learn is that the world has moved on. Cell phones, digital cameras, and pocket video recorders mean an almost instantaneous update, a real-time, front row seat of the event. Does anyone else find this amazing, or is it just me?

How about a little music from The Only Band That Matters (I think there are plenty of others, but in their heyday...yeah, they pretty much were THE band), The Clash? Here is "Clampdown." Still relevant, isn't it?

Kick over the wall, cause governments to fall
How can you refuse it?
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
D'you know how you can use it?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Which seeds will you sow?

Another great day outside! A little warmer than yesterday, and it felt great. As promised, here are a few garden pictures.

Garden 09

This is the bed where I planted tomatoes and peppers. I could cram a lot more in there, but I only bought eight of each. They didn't have jalapeno plants, if you can believe that, so I got four serrano and four sweet banana peppers. I'll start seeds next year, and do some bell pepper varieties. Ken doesn't like them, but I'll happily eat them all!

Garden 09B

On the right is the bed where I planted pole beans (foreground), yellow and green zucchini (in the middle), and cucumbers (at the far end). Do you like the trellises I made? I'll need to get some more bamboo stakes so I can make more next year. Notice the fence around the garden--I call it Stalag 13. It's eight feet high, with two feet underground. If we didn't have an eight foot high fence, the deer would be able to jump it. We still get voles burrowing underneath, but it seems to keep out the larger critters. Except for one occasion when I ambled out to the garden, tra-la tra-la, opened the gate, and saw one very fat Groundy freeze and look at me, then run frantically back and forth along the fence until he found a way out. I said, "How did you get in here?!" (He didn't answer.) We put some additional fencing along the bottom after that--he must have squeezed his fat self through one of the larger openings in the wire. Oh, and a turkey flew in there once, but was able to fly out eventually. The greater danger is slugs (ugh) or the Dreaded Verticillium Wilt. I loved getting out and planting today! It made me feel really ambitious for next year. There are four other beds like the two pictured here, so we've got plenty of room to put in a veritable cornucopia of goodies!


We have a baby plum! In fact, we have two. We planted three fruit trees a couple of years ago, and we were excited to see a couple of plums on one of them. We haven't sprayed or anything, so I don't know if we'll be able to harvest our incredible bounty (one for Ken, one for me) this year. I'll have to get a picture of the apple tree out front (which we also don't spray, although we might change that next year), where the bees have obviously been very busy. It is bursting with apples, and the deer will be quite happy this fall!

Warning: Serious talk ahead

My buddy Milwaukee Dan #1 posted a New York Times op-ed piece by Frank Rich on Facebook yesterday, and the piece perfectly articulated my recent unease with some of the things I've been reading and hearing, and my dismay at the shooting deaths around the country lately. Another buddy, Bob, wrote a great entry about the piece, and I encourage you to read both.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and entitled to voice that opinion. That should not and cannot be denied to any one of us. I'm afraid we've crossed a line, though. The line between civil disagreement and flat-out hatred. We all have the right to speak out and disagree with anyone, but we do not have the right to incite a riot. The impression I'm getting lately from bloviators like Limbaugh or Beck or O'Reilly is that they would be quite pleased to see harm come to President Obama. No, they do not come out and say "This guy needs to be killed," but their failure to tell their faithful legion to take it down a notch constitutes as implicit approval for whatever anyone might take upon themselves to do. There are unstable people out there, like the shooter at the Holocaust Museum, and the vitriol that spews from talking heads only fuels their instability and internal fire...and sometimes they explode.

Stop hateJust this weekend, a Republican activist in South Carolina posted a "funny" little thing on his Facebook page about a gorilla who escaped from a zoo: "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors--probably harmless." How is that funny? Not only is it offensive and racist, it's idiotic, because he obviously doesn't understand how evolution works. (Here's a clue, douchebag: it's not a direct line of descent. It's a matter of a common ancestor, with a genetic shift among populations. Of course, he probably doesn't believe in evolution, so I'm wasting my time.)

I'm sure there were plenty of extreme left-wing talking heads calling for Bush's head, but I honestly don't remember it being anywhere as bad as this. The op-ed piece mentioned the angry cries at McCain/Palin rallies last year, and I'm glad, because that is what the latest hatefulness reminds me of. People yelling "Terrorist! Traitor!" when Obama was mentioned...and several times, "Kill him!" I was appalled at the time and said that it needed to stop. At one memorable meeting, Senator McCain stepped up and actually defended Obama, correcting an audience member in her criticisms of Obama the "Arab." Who has the courage to speak up now and say that this has to stop? There are a few (the piece mentions Shepard Smith), but why isn't the majority of reasonable people crying for a halt to such venomous talk?

I have great faith in the ability of our Secret Service to protect our President and his family. But they shouldn't have to work quite this hard. Look at it this way: the guard at the Holocaust Museum was killed in the performance of his duties. He was protecting the people in the museum, and he died because he took that very seriously. When a nutjob who hated Jews came into the museum, this brave guard stepped up to stop him and died because he did so. That is one man. There are hundreds of Secret Service agents who are willing to give their lives to protect the President. Do the would-be killers of the President care about collateral damage? I doubt it. Why egg them on?

Stop hate2 So why do talk show hosts and writers continue to up the level of hatred? Do they not understand that there are people out there who are at the tipping point? Even silence can be inferred as encouragement for some of these unstable people. I continue to read things in Blogtropolis that astonish me in their intense hatred of Obama. I'm still reading bullshit about how his birth certificate is false (the shooter at the Holocaust Museum was a birfer, in fact), the continued mishmash of ideologies (Is he a socialist? a fascist? an Arab? a Muslim? What?), and even worse bullshit that speculates that he's the Antichrist. For God's sake, people, get a grip. If you don't like his policies or politics, fine. Vote against him in the next election, and maybe you'll be a part of voting him out of a second term. That's how we do it here!

But please, please stop this insane, irrational hatred of the man and/or his wife. You can make your voice heard in local, state, and national elections. You can write to your legislators. You can even write your opinion on your blog. (But be logical, 'kay? "I don't like him cuz he's stoopid" is not a valid argument.) Since when did violence and an armed revolution become a viable alternative to rational discourse and casting your vote at your polling place? Does anyone really want to see rioting here like we're seeing in Iran right now? Political activism does not and should not mean the endorsement of violence, hatred, or killing, and sometimes an endorsement doesn't have to be spoken. Actions usually speak louder than words. Effecting civic change does not have to come by way of the loss of civility. Sowing the seeds of hatred by your words and deeds will only result in further discord and hate, and more violence and bloodshed.

I ask again: Which seeds will you sow?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The day…I’m lovin’ it!

Nutwood Early June3 Good evening, Citizens!

I hope you've all had as lovely a day as we've had here at Nutwood. Before I get to that....

For those of you that don't do the Facebook thing, I posted a brief update there about the latest with FM (family member). We talked yesterday, and I'm happy to report that she sounds like she's doing really well. She's already talked to a lawyer, and papers will probably be served this week. She said that in some ways, she almost feels a sense of relief...I said, "That should tell you a lot," and she agreed. Here's the real kicker. Remember the conversation I reported, in which the cheating husband told me that as far as he was concerned, I wasn't welcome in their house? And then brought up my ex-husband of 20 years? FM was talking to the CH, and he told her, "I've decided to forgive your parents and your [family member]."

HA! Boy howdy, did I ever get a laugh out of that! I said, "Oh really? How generous of him!" FM said, "I knew you'd get a kick out of that." What unbelievable arrogance, to cop the attitude that HE is the one who has been wronged, that FM's parents were the bad guys or that little ol' me had done him wrong and was mean to him. It never ceases to amaze me to see someone who has so obviously done something very wrong, and who is 100% busted, try to twist things around and blame others or pretend to be the one hurt and the one wronged. That's a special kind of asshattery right there, and there must be some sort of pathology going on, too. Compulsive lying? Narcissism? I'm not sure, but it is definitely NOT COOL.

And guess what? I've decided not to forgive him. How does that grab ya, Mister Man? (I think my guilty pleasure movie tonight might have to be "Misery." Always a fun one!)

That was yesterday. Today was very enjoyable and we got quite a bit done! We did sleep quite late, because I was up until 4:45, and Ken said he wasn't able to get tired and was up until 8:30. Ouch! We got out in the afternoon and Ken built another garden bed frame while I cut holes in the plastic for the plants, and built trellises for the beans and cucumbers. It was a little on the humid side, but it felt so good just to be out there, work up a sweat, and enjoy the day! After Ken left for work (too soon, darn it), I spent some time out on the deck reading, and then started figuring out what clothes to take on our Detroit trip this week. I'll get back out to the garden tomorrow and get things planted. (I’ll get pictures tomorrow.) With as warm as the soil is, and the warm weather we're supposed to have this week, things should start popping quickly.

It was so quiet as I was sitting out reading. I listened to the birds, and once in a while I'd hear a rustle, which was Chip or Dale scurrying through the leaves. I watched him for a while, and later, I saw a bunny. I think everyone was happy to be out and about today, and I look forward to a repeat tomorrow!