Saturday, June 27, 2009

Walking Talking Jerry Springer Blues

Dysfunctional family (With apologies to the Godfathers for paraphrasing their cool song "Walking Talking Johnny Cash Blues.")

Having our folks over here on Wednesday reminded me of just how lucky I am to have a fairly normal family.

That might sound kind of funny, but believe me, I don't take it for granted. We certainly have our family problems and trials to bear, and everyone has to deal with a little drama at some point. I have relatives who have dealt with marital problems, financial problems, substance abuse problems, and health problems. But for the most part, my immediate family is fairly drama-free, and we're a very easy-going bunch. I don't argue with my parents, I don't argue with my sisters, and they don't argue with me. We're jam up and jelly tight, baby. Ken's family has been through some drama in the past, but they've weathered it. Now that his Mom and stepdad are here in town, I believe they're removed from the drama they've had to deal with in the past, and can settle in and enjoy a peaceful existence.

[A major sidebar here. On Wednesday, my Dad noticed the large silver platter atop our corner curio cabinet, and asked what it was. Ken explained that it was a trophy that his own father gave him, one that he won for his dog training skills. Dad was initially wondering about the silver content of the platter, but quickly learned that there is much more value there than the silver. Ken went out to the trunk--the one that belonged to his Dad--in the garage and brought in the Hollywood stills of his father's dog, Baron the German Shepherd. Baron was a legitimate movie star, starring with Gene Autry and playing the part of Bullet, Roy Rogers' and Dale Evans' dog. There's one shot of Baron wearing a fedora and holding a cigarette in his mouth--it's so cool! I told Ken that I should get frames for those. A cool piece of memorabilia, and a nice tribute to Ken's Dad. I'm very sorry that I never got to meet his Dad, but I have a feeling I would have liked him very much. A brilliant engineer who worked at Fermilab? A big guy with an even bigger heart and a great sense of humor? Yeah, I think I would have enjoyed spending time with him! How much fun would it have been for all three of us to get into science discussions? It would have been a veritable geekfest! Ken told me once, "My Dad would love you. Your intelligence, your sense of humor...I know he'd love you." I am content with knowing that, and with hearing other family members say the same thing. They also have told me that he'd be proud of Ken's achievements, and very pleased to know that he is happy and content at last. End of sidebar.]

Dysfunctional family2 Since my family is fairly stable (My parents celebrate their 62nd wedding anniversary amazing is that?), it's always a little surprising to me to see drama and dysfunction in other families. I guess I'm naive, but I can only say that while I understand that there is a lot of dysfunction out there, I haven't had to deal with it much--and I'm grateful for that. My parents have always been the bedrock of my family--a long-lasting, happy relationship, and I've never seen them fight. I've seen them disagree, and I know that they've been irritated with each other, but I have never seen them fight. Call me crazy, but since that's been my example for almost 47 years, that's pretty much my ideal. For anyone who says that it can't be done, or that healthy relationships have to include fights, I suggest that you meet my parents and hear what they have to say about it. I think that 62 years speak for themselves, though!

The alternative to Stable Happy Family is Scary Dysfunctional Family, and I'm sure we've all seen the latter on various talk shows, or have had them as neighbors, or have maybe even been a part of one. For my gentle readers, I hope that is not the case, but SDF is definitely out there. Parents who have been through multiple divorces and marriages; philanderers; parents who show their kids that lying, bitterness, and hatred is the norm rather than an aberration and something to be avoided; parents who continue the same abysmal behavioral patterns that their own parents exhibited.

What's great is that I've known plenty of people who have broken the mold and have not continued in their own dysfunctional parents' footsteps. They've managed to learn a lesson in the midst of all the misery and have decided "I'm not going to be like that." They move forward, step away from such behavior, and do not let the dysfunction continue. To those folks, I say Good for you! and what an admirable thing to be able to break that cycle. I salute you! Unfortunately, there are also many who seem to revel in dysfunction, and that's where Jerry Springer has found his niche, much to our national shame. We've all known people who actually seem to get off on drama, and if there's none to be found, they'll create their own, even if it means lying in order to stir up trouble and emotions. What's really sad is that rather than breaking the chain of dysfunction (get the func out!), they choose to perpetuate it and pass it down to their offspring. 'Choose' is the key word there, because there is always a choice. How mental do you have to be to not care if you screw up your kids as much as your own parents screwed you up? That's definitely a case where the family "heirlooms" shouldn't be passed along.

Dysfunctional family3 I honestly believe that there is a certain mentality that loves to wallow in such unpleasantness, and feels that life isn't quite as spicy without a little drama. Call it Jerry Springer/White Trash Whore Syndrome. (Several years ago, I worked in a place where the secretary was seriously a white trash ho type...Cousin Shane and I wrote a song about her called "White Trash Whore," and we're still hoping that Shane might be able to retrieve it from an old hard drive. I recall it being quite hilarious!) I can laugh about it to a certain point, but there is also a tragic side. If someone has been through such tragedy and drama in their own childhood, wouldn't they realize their own problem and do whatever they could to keep their own neuroses from being passed on to their kids, rather than practically ensuring that the problem is perpetuated unto the next generation?

My parents did their best to give me a better life than what they had. They both came from very poor families, and life wasn't always easy for them. Despite some very rough times, especially in Mom's family, they chose to not let that define their lives, and created a very happy and long-lived relationship as well as a loving, stable, and happy home for us girls. I will always be grateful for that and for the example that they have set for me, my sisters, and virtually everyone who has encountered them. Happy 62nd Anniversary, Mom and Dad! (And don’t look for any of us on Jerry Springer anytime soon!)

*Random uncomfortable family photos via AwkwardFamilyPhotos, a truly hilarious site*

Friday, June 26, 2009

Nutwood 911

Sorry I didn't make the rounds this afternoon, but I'll catch up soon. It was way too nice--warm but with a wonderful breeze--to sit inside, and I spent the afternoon reading out on the deck (and doing a little bird and critter watching along the way). I started the latest Dean Koontz book, and I'm halfway through it already. I just might be able to finish it tomorrow!

Earlier today, I headed out to the garden--tra la la--with my watering can in hand. Everything is looking good except for those damn cucumbers. What is it about our soil that is hostile to cucumber seeds? I might have to do some research. I've grown them before, so what has changed? Hmm.

On my way back up to the house after watering, I decided to stop at the small pond in the middle of the yard and clean it out a bit. It was covered with duckweed, and I thought I'd tidy it up a bit. I was surprised that I didn't see any frogs on the side of the pond, because we usually have plenty, and I figured that they just weren't hanging out in that little pond this year. So I grabbed the net and started skimming the duckweed, then dumping it into the firepit a few feet away. After a half a dozen or so trips, I could see into the pond a little better and saw tadpoles! Bunches of!

Tadpoles But then I thought, uh oh. I hope I didn't grab any that were within the duckweed. I went over to the firepit and looked at the pile of duckweed in the middle and saw several tiny little flops. *gasp* I was killing tadpoles! The sun was hot and beaming down relentlessly, and there they were, flopping within that duckweed, trying to find moisture and get out of the sun. The frantic rescue operation began. I was able to get one or two--sometimes three--into the net at a time, and carried them back to the pond, shielding them from the sun with my hand. Most swam back into the pond unharmed, but there were a few that didn't make it, and I was very upset. This wasn't happening fast enough, and those poor little tadpoles were dying as I raced to save them.

As I moved the pile of duckweed, more and more tadpoles were revealed...dozens of them! They were trying to burrow down into the duckweed to get out of the sun and find some moisture. I broke out into a cold sweat--actually, a very hot sweat, because it was very toasty in the sun. If I were baking like a potato in the sun, how must those inch-long little tadpoles feel?! I was horribly upset with myself for not realizing that there were tadpoles caught up in that duckweed. As much as I love our critters and birds here, here I was killing dozens of them, and time and the sun were their enemy. What to do, what to do....

You can probably guess. I picked up, in my hands, all the duckweed that I'd deposited in the firepit and carried it back to the pond and replaced it gently. Most of it was still very moist and hidden from the sun, so I think I saved most of them. There were even a couple of boards laying in the firepit that had a few tadpoles on them, and I was able to pull those out and dip them into the pond to return the tadpoles to the water. A toad hopped into the firepit and he seemed to approve of my efforts.

What did we learn at Nutwood today, Beth?

  • First, what seems to be an unoccupied pond probably isn't. If you've had plenty of frogs in it before, chances are you will again.
  • Second, tadpoles do not do well in direct sun, out of the water.
  • Third, redemption is possible, and you can go home again.
  • Finally, don't try to clean the pond until you see frogs sitting on the edge, and hear their gentle plop as they jump in the water when you approach.

I'm sorry a few of you perished, little tads, but I tried to save most of you, and if your numbers are any indication, we're going to have frogs everywhere in a couple of weeks! There were plenty in the pond, hanging out on the sides (underwater), coming up to the surface to float and sun themselves. Most of them had little back legs already. Aww! They were so cute! After I got everyone back in the pond, I just crouched and watched them for a little bit, and I told them I was sorry. I also saw a couple of ants that had been relocated in the frantic rescue effort, so I was able to get them out of the pond and back into the grass. Maybe I went a little overboard, but hey, it wasn't their fault they went from dry land to being stranded in a pond--it was mine.

Balance has been restored to Nutwood, and tranquility, harmony, and nature reign once again.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Detroit revisited

To continue with our recent Detroit trip....

On Friday morning, Mark met us at the hotel again, and we headed downtown to his favorite place, the Astoria in Greektown. Although I don't eat a lot of sweets, I was amazed and impressed by the pastries, desserts, and cakes that they had on display. I had a cream cheese danish (my favorite) and have already mentioned that it sent me on a sugar high. Whew! One of the coolest things was the baseball-sized coconut macaroons they had. Ohhhh man! I was very full after my danish and mini Key Lime Pie, though, and couldn't have eaten another bite.

After our breakfast, we parted company with Mark, but I was able to snap a picture of him first. He thinks he doesn't take a good picture. I think he's mistaken. It was such a pleasure to meet him, and I got a little verklempt as he walked away. I believe we'll meet again at some point. I can honestly say that he's one of the most positive people I've ever met, and has one of the sunniest personalities of anyone I've known. I am almost beside myself with hope for his upcoming trip, and it will be hard to have to wait to hear about it! I'll be patient...but it won’t be easy. Godspeed, my friend!

After we parted ways with Mark, Ken and I drove around downtown a little bit. We checked out our new business, GM headquarters (We have partial ownership, don't we?), the Fox Theater (Can you see who's playing there soon? Cool!), and Tiger Stadium. Okay, it's technically Comerica...whatevah. I thought Tiger Stadium was so cool, with the big tigers and huge bats, and the tiger faces all along the building, the tigers holding baseballs in their mouths. Fetch, kitty! They did a really nice job with their new stadium! Ken and I both thought that the city is really trying to revitalize downtown, and they've done a lot of work in that regard. There were still some empty buildings downtown, but every city has those, and it does seem that Detroit is making an effort to change things. (There was one building that had beautiful female figures as part of their façade.) They are also competing with Canada when it comes to casinos, and as far as we know, there are three in Detroit.

We then did a bit of an "urban decay" tour. It's no secret that Detroit has had major problems with a decline in population and urban blight. Mark believes that much of that started years ago and has its roots in political corruption. I believe him, because there is something pervasive there that has resulted in the city's decline. Please don't get me wrong--I loved Detroit, and like all big cities, I felt it had its own dynamic and vibe, and I always dig that. But as we drove outside the city center, we entered an area that was bleak and depressing and frankly, we didn't want to linger. Detroit is not alone in its plight, and there are many other areas that are experiencing a similar situation, including Gary, Indiana. How awful must it be to have an automatic strike against you because of where you were born? That's why I do my best to understand that I was raised in very fortunate circumstances, and to try as much as I can to realize that it's very easy for many to say that anyone who grows up in such an environment should "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." It's much harder to be in a position or life situation in which no one encourages you to do that, no one cares about your education, no one cares if you even have enough food to eat. Those of us raised in suburbs or in rural areas sometimes don't get it, and can't comprehend it. That is not an excuse. I believe that anyone can make of their lives what they will, but I'm saying it is much harder to do that under certain circumstances, and to not grasp that is unfair, unrealistic, and I think more than a little heartless.

Whoops, major tangent! Sorry! Above, a cool apartment building with sixties architecture, St. John’s church (I think that’s right, but please correct me if I’m wrong.), and a sign that made me think that Jesus might care, but apparently he doesn’t worry overly much about his fading sign.

Going back one day, I think it was on our way to Xochi's when we went by Michigan Central Station. I remember seeing pictures of this in a Time article about Detroit, and it is a beautiful and imposing building. I wonder why they couldn't rehabilitate this gorgeous building and try to use it for another purpose?

Back to the current tour. I thought this abandoned home was very sad-looking, and sort of spooky in black and white.

We also went by Cass Tech High School (Again, I think that's the correct name, someone please correct me if I'm wrong), and I loved the old building. A new building has been built next to it, but they haven't torn down the old one. Again, could the old building be rehabilitated and repurposed? These buildings are beautiful, and it's horrible to see them razed.

After leaving Detroit, we headed to Monroe to see Bill and Mary Sue. It was great to visit with them and talk about what is happening in all our lives, and they really are incredibly nice people and great friends. One of the places that they suggested for dinner was to drive back into the city and go to Pegasus in Greektown. Since we'd just come from there, we chose to stay in town and go out for dinner at Ruby Tuesday's, where both twins work. That night, Beth and her boyfriend were dining with us, and Amy was our server! It went very well, and Amy got a great tip. I just hope that the other diners don't expect their server to sit on their laps the way Amy sat on her father's. Ha! I don't like this picture of me, but I'm posting it anyway. I can tell when it gets really bangs get all funky. Bleah.

Finally, here are some mayflies for you. I got a closeup of one of the guys hanging on our motel room window. I think the yellow blotches on the window are mayflies who slammed into the window. Yuck! When we went out to the car the next morning, mayflies were all over it! There was even one in the door handle, so I didn't want to squish it, and when I tried to shoo it, it just stuck there. They're clingy, too! I know they won't hurt you, but who wants to have to squish them or have them on you? Double yuck!

This concludes the chronicle of our Detroit trip. I thought it was a great city, and I really hope they figure out a way to reinvent and redefine, and continue on as one of our great American cities. I hope we can go back one day and visit with more of our blog peeps, as well as another visit with Bill and Mary Sue.

One hot party (and I don’t mean the GOP)

Unfortunately, it was way too hot to sit outside for today's cookout. I asked the folks to step outside and see how it felt to them, and even with the umbrella up and a fan going, it just felt a little too sticky and oppressive to sit outside. My Dad said he'd rather sit inside, so that's what we did. We have a stand-alone air conditioner in the living area, and just to give you an idea of how humid it was today, it shut down about every hour because the water reservoir was full. We've never had that happen before, and anyone who lives in a humid area knows exactly how miserable such mugginess can be. It was so bad that after everyone left, Ken went up to Lowe's and got another unit for the bedroom (it's a pain to put in the window unit) so we can sleep comfortably tonight! It's cooled off enough here in the living room that we have the windows open, but it's so hard to sleep in such humidity.

Anyhoo, everything turned out well! We had way too much food, which seems to run in my family. In retrospect, I wouldn't have needed to make the cucumbers and onions (I didn't even have room myself to eat them today, but we'll eat all week on them, so no worries), and do you think five pounds of potatoes for the potato salad was too much? I was able to send some home with both sets of folks, so that was okay. No one said it was the best they ever had, but everyone ate it and said it was good. Works for me! Also, two packages of brats was a little excessive. Ten brats, and there are nine left. I couldn't eat more than my one hamburger! Anyone want to come over and help us eat leftovers? There's plenty!

Sanford I still have more to write about our Detroit trip, and I've got another idea rolling around for an upcoming entry about dysfunction, but I just have to quickly mention South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. When we got off of the computer a little before 2 PM, the talk was about how his hiking vacation on the Appalachian Trail was not the truth, and he'd actually been in Argentina. Huh? Oh, and his wife had said earlier that she didn't know where he was. Red flag, red flag! As I wrote on my pal Mark O's Facebook page, if Ken took off for a week and didn't tell me where he was going, and I later found out that he'd been in Argentina, he'd have some major 'splainin' to do! (And vice versa, of course. Who does that? You don't just take off for Argentina and not tell your partner unless something is seriously wrong in your relationship.) When I heard this, I figured something was rotten in Denmark, and thought there might be some sort of affair going on. I figured it was 50/50 whether it was a man or a woman.

After the folks left and I got back online, the headline was that Sanford had admitted an affair, and had resigned his chairmanship of the Republican Governor's Association. He has yet to resign as Governor, and maybe he'll try to limp along for the remaining year of his term. I can't imagine how he can possibly govern effectively after this. I think the most amazing part of this, and the part that you have to laugh at--even though he has hurt his family and betrayed his constituents with his complete absence and unavailability, and that’s far from laughable--is the few emails that have been released. Good grief, the guy's purple prose is just embarrassing, and I believe he has a future as a Harlequin romance writer: "The erotic beauty of you holding...two magnificent parts of yourself." We've been giggling about it all night, and Ken has been demonstrating. Haha!

I'm not going to make this about party politics, because I don't think it is. It's about some yahoo who is either arrogant or ignorant, or both, and thinks that he won't get caught. Republicans don't have the corner on this market, by any means. What is especially egregious about Sanford's screw-up (pun intended) is that he has been so moralistic in his attitudes concerning gay marriage and sex education. Apparently, the affair has been known of for five months, and he's been spending that time with a prayer group. How's that working for you, Governor? Not too well, I guess, since you made this recent trip. I don't care what party someone belongs to, this sort of sanctimonious posturing makes me sick. Freakin’ hypocrite. In SanfordWorld, it's okay to tell gay couples that they can't marry or adopt or have equal rights that are afforded to every other person in this country, or that kids can't learn about contraception and STD prevention in school because of your religious views...but the Grand High Poobah of SanfordWorld can violate his marriage vows and take off for South America for a week, leaving his state without an executive in charge. That is okay.

Crackuh, PLEASE.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hot hot hot

Great googly moogly, it's a scorcher today! And tomorrow, when our folks come over for a cookout? Supposed to be even hotter. Our thermometer read 91° this afternoon, but I'm guessing the heat index was close to 100°. We hope it will be pleasant sitting out on the deck tomorrow, under the umbrella, but if not, we have the air conditioner up from the basement, ready to go to work. I don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable, and it sounds like it will be pretty steamy tomorrow. Good to have the option of sitting inside if it gets too bad.

Knowing how warm it's supposed to get tomorrow, I'm working on getting everything ready today. I don't want to have to fire up the oven or the stove tomorrow, so the potato salad is done (I'll give you the verdict tomorrow...I've already asked Ken if he's going to ask everyone if his wife's potato salad is the best they've ever had!) and chillin', and the beans are ready to bake later tonight and warmed up in the microwave tomorrow. The place isn't spic and span, but I don't think anyone will be mad at me for not doing a bunch of cleaning. Mom was even a little dismayed that I was cooking with it this hot. I'm cool with it (so to speak), and I just hope everything turns out okay!

I got all my Detroit pictures edited this morning! Yay! At least the ones that are good. Here are a few. (Click on any picture to embiggen.)

Girls Gone Wild On the way up to Michigan, we saw lots of wildlife, including deer, turkeys, a hawk, and a black and white raptor--I'm guessing it was an osprey. At a rest stop in Indiana, we saw wildlife of another kind, although we only saw their mode of transport, not the actual wildlife. Ha!

We stayed in Dearborn, just outside of Detroit. Our hotel was not too far from Ford corporate headquarters, and I think Blacky (Ken's Mustang convertible) was pretty happy to be back on his old stomping grounds. The corporate offices are huge, and it makes you realize what a big operation it is. Since I'm a Ford gal, I'm very pleased to know that they are in decent shape and didn't have to take any of the bailout money. They seem to be fairly forward-thinking, so I hope they'll survive. I would be very sad if Ford went under.Ford HQ

After a fun dinner at BD Mongolian Barbecue, we just took it easy in the hotel room, and on Thursday morning, Mark came to meet us at the hotel. We headed out to have breakfast at a place close by, and chatted and got to know each other in real life! Then it was off to the Science Center for the Star Trek exhibit. Our first stop was a flight simulator (see picture below). Do you think the guys running the simulator were happy to be wearing Star Trek uniforms? I'm guessing not. Ken and I went first (only room for two, unfortunately), and even after seeing the onboard video of us, Mark was brave enough to go it alone. It was actually really cool, and although it was modified to show a Trek space battle, apparently the simulator is exactly the same as what fighter pilots use for training. It did barrel rolls, and backwards rolls, and it certainly gave me a whole new appreciation for what pilots go through in their training. Yikes! Anyone with a tender tummy would be well-advised to avoid a flight simulator. It was fun. I think our main reactions were “Whoaaa!” followed by laughter!

Trek flight simulatorThen we made our way to the elevator for the Trek exhibit. (It's extra admission, besides the usual Science Center fee, so you have to show your ticket to get on the elevator.) I'm sorry to say that photography was not allowed in the exhibit itself, because there were some crazy fun exhibits! I've already written about my favorite, the Guardian of Forever, and there was also a cool replica of a Next Gen hallway and Captain Picard's quarters. Lots of costumes from all of the Trek series, and my favorites were of course from the first season. Lots of great prop replicas, including phasers, communicators, and a Tribble. Great trivia and observations about different series and episodes and actors. Did you know that James Doohan (Scotty) served in the Canadian Army and was at Normandy Beach on D-Day? He lost a finger on his right hand, and always hid it during filming. It was also neat to read about the physics of Star Trek, and how accurate or not the concepts were. The cell phone was conceived by someone watching the original series actors using their communicators. Yes, the cell phone exists because of Star Trek. I also envision a future in which the screaming kid we encountered in one room of the exhibit (he was old enough to know better, but his handlers seemed to not care about his behavior) will be automatically silenced by some sort of sound dampening device. There has to be a way.Trek elevator

As Mark and I agreed, Star Trek wasn't always about pure science. Some of the finest science fiction writers ever worked on the Trek series, and sometimes it was just about the story (as in "The City on the Edge of Forever" episode about which I wrote). I love Star Trek because it shows an optimistic future world in which prejudice is set aside in the cause of the greater good. It's about tolerance, compassion, education, science, and our yearning for exploration. Its 40+ year survival shows that it has always spoken to something deep inside many of us, and the success of the most recent movie proves that many still get it. We are fascinated by the thought of finding new worlds and new civilizations; we still want to go where no one has gone before; and we all want to live long and prosper. To those dearest to us, we can honestly say "I have been and always shall be your friend."

Damn if I didn't go and choke myself up. Argh! It's a remarkable show, a remarkable concept, and I am very proud to say that I am a huge fan of Star Trek. Call me a geek if you will...I don't care.

We also got to see the new movie on the IMAX screen there, and I was thrilled! It was fun to see Mark's reaction, since he hadn't seen the movie yet. Afterwards, he said what I've heard from so many--the casting was incredible. They really did do a great job, and I think the franchise just might be a phoenix rising. (That one was for you, Mark!)

After the exhibit, we enjoyed an excellent dinner at Mark's favorite Mexican restaurant, Xochi's. (That is its nickname--I can't recall the full name.) It made me want to explore some of the local restaurants here and find something a little more authentic than Hacienda. I'm thinking that we probably have some very good Mexican restaurants in our area, and we just haven't found them yet. Anyone reading from our area who can recommend a place?

More tomorrow!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Shame on me

I'm so bad...I still haven't edited pictures from our Detroit trip! I'm going to stop mentioning it and stop feeling so guilty and just get to it as soon as I can. I'll post them ASAP, but today was tied up with shopping for our cookout on Wednesday and starting to put things together. The cucumbers are soaking in salt water at the moment, so I'm stepping away to make a quick entry. When I was at the grocery store, I found T-bones on sale, so guess what we're having for dinner tonight? That's right, chicken! I'm being silly--we'll have T-bones, baked potatoes, and a wedge of lettuce with blue cheese dressing. One of our favorite combos!

Award Bow Hey, I got an award! A very big thank you to Lucy of What is Left of a Whole New Life for passing along the Bow Award, which she received from a nice gentleman from Greece. She had very kind things to say, including that she never knows what she'll find here when she stops by to read. I like that, because I don't like to be "defined," or put into any particular category. As with most awards, if I read you, feel free to snag this for yourself for a job well done. [curtseying] Thank you, Lucy!

One of the things that tickled me the most when talking to Mark was when we first met and stopped for breakfast. As we were getting to know each other over eggs and toast, Mark said something about how it was really interesting to meet us in person because in our blogs, he said, "Ken, you're so laid back, and you [he looked at me] are..." and he started laughing. I said, "Not?" It was so funny, and I looked at Ken and said, "I think I'm laid back, too...except when I get fired up about something!" I told Ken later that I really think I am a very laid back person, and it's just a few paragraphs out of my day that I might get fired up. Ken said, "But that's what everyone reads of you, so that's how they see you." Point well taken, and I want to reassure everyone that I don't bite, and I really am a pussycat. Except when I get fired up about something. Haha! The vast majority of my day is spent being cool as a cucumber (despite today's hot and humid weather), friendly, smiling, calm and relaxed. I’m chill, baby.

I stayed up a little while last night after Ken went to bed, and as I was sitting here, I heard a thump in the basement. A moment later, Sheeba came up from the basement with a mouse in his mouth! A good-sized field mouse, too, not one of the little gray ones. As soon as I looked at him and said, "Good boy!" he turned and went back downstairs. He did this four or five more times, apparently just showing off and/or enjoying his sport with the mouse. He finally made his way over to one of Ken's shoes and dropped Mousie into it. I'm not sure why, but that's what he does--whenever he catches a mouse, he drops it into one of Ken's shoes. I was able to pick up the shoe, take it outside, and dump Mousie out into the yard. I suppose he just found a way back into the house, but maybe he'll remember his trauma and stay away. Sheeba got lots of praise and a couple of treats. He really is a great mouser. I hate to see any animal hurt, but he rarely kills them, just drops them off for us to take care of and in exchange for treats. Who knows? Maybe he thinks he's giving us a treat!

I finally updated my Shelfari widget over there on the sidebar. That was overdue! I've made an effort to really get back into reading lately--I still keep up with magazines and Net content, but I've missed reading actual books. I'm trying to remedy that, and I've enjoyed it very much. I think I'm going to read one more from our shelf here at Nutwood, the latest Dean Koontz, then get back into the book club list. I’m still behind!

Off to the kitchen...the cukes are calling! O Danny Boy….

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dads and The Guardian

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! If you're lucky enough to still have your Dad around, I hope you were able to tell him you love him. If not, I hope you were able to think good thoughts about the years you had together. I talked to my Dad to wish him Happy Father's Day, and also to wish him a happy birthday! He turned 86 today, and is one of the best men I know. I also gave Ken's stepdad a call to wish him a happy day. We are having them all over this Wednesday for a cookout, so I'll be busy in the next few days with getting things ready. One of the things I'm making is potato salad, so I'm sure we'll all have a good laugh about the Great Potato Salad Debate of 2009 (in which, if you recall, someone tried to get me to say that his wife's potato salad was the best I'd ever had). I think I'm being very brave in making potato salad! It will be fun for me and Ken to play host and hostess (with the mostest!) to our folks.

My Dad also made sure to ask me to wish Ken a Happy Father's Day from him, and I know Ken will appreciate that. Although things may not be ideal on certain fronts at the moment, I'm quite confident that one day, the truth will out. It always does, and both Ken and I can be very patient. Creating tangled webs is a very pathetic way to live one's life, but there are some who seem to know no other way. You'd think that people would learn pretty quickly that such things always come back to bite you on the ass, but I guess there are some who are just too stubborn to ever figure that out. Anyhoo, I hope everyone had a fine day!

Silver Squirrel Award A Silver Squirrel Award to the lovely Sheria of The Examined Life, who was the first to comment on what I was referencing when I mentioned Bill and Mary Sue's twin girls, Amy and Beth, and I said that they're not little. Of course, that was a reference to Louisa May Alcott's book Little Women, which I read several times when I was in grade school. Nicely done, Sheria, and do with the Award what you will! Oh, and when I jokingly said that Amy and Beth aren't little, I meant height-wise. I'm sure they're at least 5'8", and they're incredible athletes--their high school won the state championship in girls' softball when they were seniors (I think that's right), and now that they're in college, they still stay involved in sports. Just a couple of lovely young ladies, and isn't that always a nice thing to see? I sure think so.

I've been trying to get caught up around the house and with blogs, so I still haven't gotten my pictures edited. Maybe I'll work on them a little bit tonight after dinner. Unfortunately, you couldn't take pictures within the exhibit, and there were many things I would have loved to have gotten a picture of. The highlight of the exhibit for me was a replica of the Guardian of Forever, which was in my favorite episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever." Of course, I had to walk through it, and as far as I know, no space-time anomalies have occurred. This is a picture I found online, and perhaps you recognize the Guardian and remember the episode.Guardian of ForeverBecause of turbulence on the Enterprise, Dr. McCoy accidentally injects himself with an extremely high dose of cordrazine, a stimulant used for emergency treatment of heart failure. This renders him a raging paranoiac, and he beams down to the planet to escape his "persecutors." When a rescue team goes after him, they find the Guardian but have no idea of its purpose or meaning. Bones leaps out from behind some rocks, runs from his shipmates, and leaps through the portal of the Guardian, which is activated...and Bones disappears. The Guardian then speaks to the rescue team and tells them that Bones has gone into the past and has apparently altered history. When Uhura tries to hail the ship, she finds that the Enterprise is no more. They are stranded on the planet with no hope of rescue, unless Kirk and Spock can go back into time and right what Bones has wronged.

Sorry this is getting so long, but I really do love this episode, and the disturbance of the space-time continuum is probably my favorite theme in science fiction! I'll try to pick things up, though.

Spock is able to narrow the window of what time McCoy went back to, and Kirk and Spock go back to Depression-era New York City. While awaiting Bones's arrival, Kirk is befriended by Edith Keeler (played by a young and non-bitchy Joan Collins), who runs a soup kitchen. She tells Kirk and Spock about a room in her apartment building, and they earn wages by doing handyman jobs and helping around the soup kitchen. While Spock works on jury-rigging a primitive computer in which he can find out specifics of Bones' arrival, Kirk and Edith become close, and it seems as if they might be falling in love. This is no quick space-bang for the notorious Lothario Capt. Kirk...he genuinely admires her and cares for her. Her ideas of a peaceful future seem strangely prescient of the Federation of Planets, and Kirk is captivated.

When Spock is finally able to slow down his tricorder readings enough to figure out when McCoy arrives in the area, he also finds out two versions of history. In one, Edith Keeler is killed in a hit-and-run car accident. In the other, she is not killed, founds a peace movement that becomes so strong and popular that it is able to delay the United States' entry into WWII, which leads to the Nazis developing the atomic bomb before the Allies, the Axis winning the war and world domination by fascist regimes, which in turn leads to the suppression of research and education and then to the hindrance of the space program so that space travel is not developed, and the Enterprise never exists!!! [deep breath] Still with me? Spock warns Jim that in order to save the future of the Federation, the Enterprise, and themselves, Edith Keeler must die; Jim informs him that he has, indeed, fallen in love with Edith.

In a nail-biting sequence of events, Bones turns up at the soup kitchen, missing Spock by mere seconds; Edith Keeler speaks with McCoy and helps him get over what appears to be a bender; as Kirk and Edith return home from a movie, she mentions "Dr. McCoy," and Kirk realizes that Bones is in their midst; as he runs across the street to tell Spock, Bones and Spock emerge from the soup kitchen, and they all embrace in joyous reunion; Edith begins to walk across the street to see what all the hubbub is about; a truck approaches, bearing down on Edith, and as Bones moves to run to save her, Kirk realizes what is happening--this is the moment of Edith's demise and he cannot let Bones save her--and Jim holds McCoy back as he looks away. We hear the screech of brakes and a thud. Bones asks Jim if he realizes what he's just done...he could have saved her! Jim can't speak, and Spock says, "He knows, Doctor. He knows."

The three return to the present via the Guardian, who intones that "all is as it was before." The Guardian invites them to go back into the past and experience other histories. Kirk says simply, "Let's get the hell out of here," and the team beams up to the Enterprise, leaving the planet and the Guardian alone in silence broken only by the sighing wind.

*sniff* Okay, yes, I got a little verklempt there. Shut up! It remains one of the most powerful and emotional episodes for me, and I love the disturbance of the space-time continuum theme. I believe it is also a cautionary tale about altering the past. Although it's easy to speculate about what might be different if we were to change some of our past decisions, I've always felt that was not only an exercise in futility, it is also a dangerous business. We can have no way of knowing how an alternate pathway might affect our current location or state of happiness. Things might be better...but they could also be considerably worse.

That is why I choose not to engage in "What if?" questions in my life. I don't necessarily believe that things happen for a reason, but I do believe that the decisions we have made are what have brought us to where we are, and made us who we are. If we aren't happy with that, then it's time to make another decision and move forward. Thinking about how you'd alter your past is counterproductive and not helpful. You can't go back, so why speculate about it?

That's one of the many lessons I've learned from "Star Trek."