Sunday, May 22, 2011


Mount Hood: Taken from Mount Tabor Park, which is about two miles from my house on a 
rare and beautiful clear Friday afternoon. 

Just when we need leadership, ideas, solutions, the world gets sidetracked by a juicy sex scandal. There's been one right after the other particularly since Republicans went after Bill Clinton, who denied he'd ever had sexual relations with that woman.  It just seems that the higher they climb, their fall into disgrace is equally spectacular:  John Edwards, Elliott Spitzer, the governor of South Carolina (heterosexual), the governor of New Jersey (homosexual), Tiger Woods, and now Arnold Schwarzenegger (with the IMF leader crowding into the field).  We have legislators trolling men's rooms for sex and Charlie Sheen with his "Goddesses" joining him for ranting interviews for major TV network news programs.  Is it any wonder that people are no longer interested in real news when they can be distracted from their own lives by the colorful sight of a high-profile celebrity or politician caught with their pants down around their ankles?

The revelations that Arnold Schwarzenegger's housekeeper gave birth to a son a week after his wife, Maria Shriver, gave birth to their son seems to be the lowest of the low. Yet I read that when Shriver heard the news she ordered her husband to leave their home.  Arnold--being the generous person he isn't, refused, so Shriver moved into a hotel. The housekeeper worked in their home for the entire fourteen years of her son's life. I read that her husband left her upon learning about the baby's real father, which he thought was his. Her life isn't going to change much.  She still gets her pension for her years served and I'm sure Arnold has been generous in buying her silence.  Shriver and her children will now have to try and get past the betrayal of a husband and father.  I feel sorry for the kid of this unlikely union.  He's going to bear the brunt of curiosity, jokes, an the public's contempt and he's innocent.  Schwarzenegger can merely retreat behind the gates of his estate and the world can go away.

No doubt in the future, there will be lower forms of human behavior, but right now Schwarzenegger has to be inducted into the pond scum hall of fame, where he will be in a category separate from the rest of the mere pond scum.

This spectacular pink dogwood is a very common sight during the spring in Portland.  It seems nearly 
every house has one along with rhododendrons and Japanese maples. 

Frankly I'd rather watch THE GOOD WIFE with its ripped-from-the-headlines revelations rather than read about the reality of our lawmakers sexual shenanigans.  We've got two wars, a barely breathing economy, a Middle East powder keg that threatens to explode at any moment, massive unemployment, bankrupt cities and towns, with no fixes on the horizon. Shouldn't we be looking to our politicians to be helping us figure out a way out of our current problems rather than being assaulted by their out-of-control urges?  How about new jobs, making corporations and the rich pay their fair share of taxes, regulating Wall St. and the banks (because they refuse to regulate themselves), fix our broken schools, and put us on the road to being whole rather than mire us in their petty partisan politics.

This lavish pink rhododendron always peaks over my backyard fence in the spring.  

We now have three Republicans who, thank God, will not be challenging President Obama for the presidency next year:  Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump.  Newt pissed off his fellow Republicans by bad-mouthing them (heresy--the party stays on message dontchaknow). Besides, he has debt problems to go along with his reputation for womanizing, even though he is allegedly happily married. Mike Huckabee likes the bucks Fox throws at him, and he's not at all sure he can win against a newly resurgent President Obama.  Donald Trump also has a TV show that, in the end, was where he was always going to be.  He used the media (stenographers everyone of them who cover Mr. Trump), who should rightly feel like whores.  He mounted this absurd "birther' campaign to get attention for his slumping ratings, and in his own delusional way of thinking, bows out of the race convinced he could have been a serious contender (not with three wives, bankruptcies, and I'm sure accounting that could never stand any kind of serious scrutiny).  Good riddance to the lot. 

Sarah Palin has quietly gone rogue silent on us.  Who knows what Romney has up his sleeve.  Stay tuned for the next shifting winds of the Repugs.

Al the bulb flowers have done well this season--daffodils, grape hyacinths and now my tulips.  
especially loved this deep purple variety.  

My friend and former boss, Arlene, lost her husband, Shep, last weekend after a long illness. Theirs was a long and happy marriage.  They were loving, but also boisterously contentious at times.  I admired their union--it seemed real to me.  I don't think they ever lost that spark that brought them together in the first place. They certainly had challenges.  Shep had a business that went bust in the 80s and he re-invented himself as a real estate mogul in East Hampton and did very well. She endured the loss of a beloved sister to cancer at far too young an age. She had a long and successful publishing career full of peaks and valleys. I used to have dinner with them often when I lived in Manhattan, though it had been more than a few years since we had last dined together.  They were fun to be with in a restaurant.  And they were good hosts.  I remember memorable holiday dinners at their home in the Village before they moved to midtown in the 90s. Shep was too ill to join us for lunch just before I left New York and it had been a long time since Arlene and I sat down together, but that lunch (with Belle, another colleague), was just lovely.  I hope she gets past this blue period in her life and is soon throwing off her own special vital glow again soon.

But even these lilac and pink "double" tulips were showy and thrived under the tall and very 
acidic cedar tree in the front yard.

The peonies, iris, and roses are all about to bloom within the next week or so.  If their buds are any indication, this should be some show!  My brother, Scott, has left after a month-long visit. Beau, Bit and I are looking forward to a house that is quiet. Hope the weather can hold out.  It's probably 80 degrees and dry right now.  Must go home and water the yards!

Clearly sage does very well in cool, wet climates. It did moderately well last year for the first time, and I 
was surprised that it came back so strong in its second season, but this sage has these purply flower tops 
which when they unfurl are actually new leaves.  By contrast, none of the other herbs in the 
raised vegetable bed has grown so vibrantly as this sage plant has this spring. 

I spoke too fast.  We're back into the mid-50s with gray skies and chilly temperatures (right now it's in the mid-50s at 3:00 PM on a Sunday).  I'm trying to cram for a my written test to get my license, finally.  I'm nervous about it.  I have failed the written test three times. I've read the DMV manual about 20 times and I'm still freaking out every time I sit in front of the ridiculously intimidating computer. So I put the manual down every 45 minutes or so, clear my head and do something else.  But I come back and study more. I have rarely been someone who memorizes lots of facts and figures. I find the process of figuring out how long your license will be suspended if you get slapped with a DUI the first and second time--well daunting.  I'm sufficiently intimidated about DUIs not to get one.  And in the unlikely event I do, I'm sure someone will tell me what the penalties are.  And sometimes the yellow warning signs don't make sense.  Just look at the lane reduction sign and you'll understand what I mean.

Bit, relaxing after a session with his new scratching post, which was covered with catnip.  He's very stoned in this photograph.  Catnip makes cats do amazingly goofy things, which are very amusing to watch. 

Beau and Bit continue to maintain 'safe' distance from one another. They get along, but don't seem to trust one another.  Last night I managed to get these photos while they were napping on my couch.  Beau takes the seat and Bit prefers being higher up on the pillows.  Sometimes Bit jumps up on the bed, but moves to the foot of the bed quickly. Most of the time Beau doesn't acknowledge that he's there, but his eyes open and are wary of his presence.  Bit doesn't much care for being cooped up in the house. I don't want a cat wandering in the back yard because it is too easy for them to get over the gate and out into the street where he would be very vulnerable to moving cars.  Besides, I don't want fleas. But he does love to be outside.  Lately, I've let him explore the balcony, but only when I'm out there to keep an eye on him.  Cats have been known to fall from balconies, as I chillingly remember in New York when a cat fell from a high balcony and died right in front of me.  I've never forgotten that terrible accident.

Humming bird feeders are up and drawing humming birds to my fuchsias with their bright red flowers. And last week I released a bag of lady bugs into the backyard, hopefully to lay their eggs and hatch lots of them to eat aphids and other nasty garden parasites.  I had to spray my roses with ginger ale so they would stick to the leaves and also to adhere their wings to their bodies long enough to lay eggs.  The next step will be to find a bat house.  Bats love to eat insects and are good for a garden.

At 6:00 PM last night, I poured myself a vodka martini, straight up with olives.  I rarely drink hard liquor any more, but this was a special occasion.  If the world was coming to an end, I wanted my critters close by and indulge with a delicious martini to send myself off into the abyss.  Fortunately, the Rapture has been delayed, and because the martini I poured was a generous six ounces, the only doom and gloom I can report is a slight headache when I awoke this morning to find out the world did not end last night. There seems to be remarkably little coverage about it. It's almost as if the media were embarrassed to cover it in the first place and by ignoring it, they were acting as though the issue had never been raised. I suspect the Religious Right will be have some excuse why God chose not to take us out, but hopefully, they will keep their reasons to themselves.

I recently visited the Portland Rhododendron and Crystal Springs Garden, which is very close to my home. Every year the park is opened the public during the spring and summer.  It is home to 2,500 varieties of rhododendrons, azaleas, and related plants (lots of hostas).  There are waterfalls, lakes with lots of ducks and geese swimming around.  They allow you to bring your dog, as long as it is leashed.  So Beau had a wonderful time.  He was curious and not aggressive about the birds, but they kept honking and hissing at him when he got near them.  Beau didn't growl and was most respectful.  The garden, which gets its 100% funding for the purchase of plants and maintenance from the public.  The $3.00 entrance fee is very inexpensive and you can spend hours climbing all over the paths, or sitting down on a bench to contemplate the beauty of it all.   

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