Monday, November 21, 2005
I just got home from another trip to Mississippi for business. I wasn't too tired, so I agreed to stop by this new high end lumber place with Martin on the way home from the airport. We were looking around at all of the beautiful wood, and then we decided to look at hardware.
We were in the clamp section and I saw this bundle of dusty spider web on the top of one of the clamps. When I looked closer, I saw bright green and a black beak. It was a little hummingbird that had apparently become entangled in a dusty spiderweb and had fluttered down from the ceiling in its struggle to get free. I thought it was dead, so I gathered up some tissue to wrap around it so I could take it outside and bury it. But, when I nudged it with the tissue, it sqirmed. The little thing was still alive!
I brought it to the counter and the clerk said this happened before and he went to go get some sugar water and a spoon. Meanwhile, I started detangling the spider web from the bird's wings and legs. There was as much spider web as there was bird! By time the clerk got back with the sugar water, I had the little hummingbird cleaned up, but he wasn't moving. Martin and I took him outside and sat on the tailgate of the clerk's truck. Martin shielded the bird from the sun and I started to immerse his little beak in a spoonful of the sugar water mixture.
The bird wouldn't open his eyes. I thought we had lost him because he wouldn't drink and he seemed more stiff then when I first picked him up. Still, I kept inserting his beak in a spoonful of sugar water every couple of minutes. Finally, the bird's tongue, which was thinner than a needle, came poking out of the beak. He lapped up a tiny bit of the sugar water, but it probably would have been a litre to you or I. We were thrilled!
Every few minutes he would drink more. After about 20 minutes he opened his eyes once and fluttered his wings. He was reviving! After that he drank heartily and finally opened his eyes as wide as they should be. He then looked around at Martin and I, and all at once flew out of my hand and into the sky. We watched him go. He flew over the building and disappeared into the distance.
Martin and I looked at each other and then kissed each other in happiness. Something special happened that day, and we got to be a part of it.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I don’t need to tell you that the childhood my brother and I experienced wasn’t the happiest. Oh, there were good times and my brother and I were pretty close, but there was an 800-pound gorilla in the living room that nobody was allowed to talk about and everybody had to ignore. That gorilla had several names. One of its names was Alcoholism. Another was Child Abuse.
Our father was very controlling. He made sure that we did not have access to modern material items or modern ideals. We lived a few miles out of town in a little suburbia neighborhood at the base of the mountain just north of where Joshua Tree National (Monument) Park begins. The children who lived in the area lived far away from us (several blocks away, which can be the span of the ocean to a child), and our parents rarely took us on trips out of town or in town for that matter. The farthest place we would go on a regular basis was a town called Yucca Valley, and we would only go there if there was a special at one of the hardware stores or if one of us had to see a medical specialist. We never went for pleasure.
There was no indoor movie in our hometown of Twentynine Palms. There were no fast food restaurants there at the time. No shopping malls. No entertainment centers. Our five-and-dime and the drug store were the places we shopped and hung out. There was a pool at the park and a skating rink that lasted a couple of years, and we sometimes went to those. Getting around wasn’t easy, though.
Our mother did not drive a car and even if she did there was only ever one family car that our father took to work daily. So, we walked wherever we wanted to go. We enjoyed walking and it was normal for us to walk the three and a half miles into town for a root beer float and to do some grocery shopping. Sometimes we took a cab home, but most of the time we walked back carrying our parcels. I always thought it was peculiar that our mother complained that nobody would pick us up and give us a ride to or from town. After all, it was our choice to walk. This walking was just one of the peculiarities of our family, and I took it for granted as such. Still, sometimes in the scorching desert heat of summer someone would stop and give us a ride home.
When my brother and I became a little older we would ride our bikes into town for the root beer float or to play video games at the drug store. Most of our childhood play involved making forts in the field, riding bikes with our friends, and playing make believe or “pretending” games when it was too hot to go outside. We rarely went outside of the boundaries of our neighborhood for anything.
One of the jewel times of our childhood was the years that our parents allowed us to play with the Watson children. They lived many, many blocks away at the very top of our neighborhood, but Ricky was my age and didn’t mind playing with my brother who was younger, and Tammy was a few years older than me. Tammy would let me listen to her disco music, which I loved, but it was forbidden in our house. Ricky liked to play with little plastic dinosaurs and would involve my brother in dinosaur games of pretend. The very best part of being friends with these kids was that their dad, George, loved to do things.
George Watson was a tall, muscular, kind, and generous man who grew up in Georgia and joined the Marine Corps. That’s how he knew our father. They both work in the same place. George knew us kids because his stepson Ricky was in my elementary school class.
George had a converted Volkswagen Beetle that we called “The Baja Bug,” and somehow all of us kids managed to fit in the back seat and George and his wife Carlene sat in the front. We would go tearing through washes and dirt roads in the dark of a summer’s night, kicking up dust, and going over moguls. All of us kids would laugh with sheer joy and then cough when the dust caught up to us. We didn’t care. We were having fun and loving life.
Sometimes George would take us out in his huge, green, four-wheel drive truck that had a shell on the back that all of us kids would pile into. Again, we would tear up the desert and get into gnarly places where the sand was deep. Sometimes George would put the cruise control on and walk outside the truck steering the whole time. This was a very “dad” thing to do, and we kids loved it. We thought that was “so cool.” Trips in the truck usually ended up at the Foster’s Freeze or A&W for an ice cream. My brother and I were so grateful to be out and doing something fun that they could have served us dog poop and we wouldn’t have complained.
There was always a strange look in George’s eye when he would drop us off back home. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but today I know that it was something close to sorrow. Maybe even pity.
These outings went on for a period of about two years. Every time George took his children out for ice cream or four-wheeling in the desert, he would always stop by ask if my brother and I could go, too. We were so delighted when he did. If my mother was home when George came by, there was never any trouble. We were always allowed to go. If my father was home, there was always a bit of contention and we were not always allowed to go.
My father had several problems with George. For one, George was younger and more energetic and making rank fast. I think my father felt threatened by him. Secondly, my father knew in his heart that George was an example of fatherhood that he could never measure up to. My father knew that George could see the 800 pound gorilla in the living room, and I think George knew a couple of the gorilla’s names. One of the other things that bothered my father about George Watson was the fact that George was black.
I sometimes wonder if George was one of those rare individuals who grew up in an abusive household and instead of repeating the behavior, decided to go in the opposite direction and be a loving person instead. I might never know. What I do know for sure is that his acts of kindness to my brother and I gave me the hope that there was a better life out there waiting for us, and the knowledge that not all adults ignored the obvious. I have tried to live in his example and take my own son on regular outings. Some educational. Some just for fun. I also decided that the cycle of abuse in my family would end with me. And the cycle of prejudice.
I have tried several times to contact George in my adult life. I’ve tried Internet searches, I’ve called up complete strangers in Georgia named George Watson hoping it was him, and usually got hung up on. I’ve emailed both of his stepchildren through Classmates.com, but never heard back from them. I don’t want a reunion or correspondence. I just want to tell him thank you. For so many things, thank you.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I have long been an admirer of the manners, hospitality, and etiquette found in the people of the southern United States. That admiration increased significantly during my business trip to Pascagoula, Mississippi last week. People who had suffered losses invited me to their homes for dinner or treated me to lunch and wouldn't hear my objections. I was, after all, a guest. Those of us on the coasts could learn a thing or two from The South's generosity.
I was amused to find that southern courtesy extends even into the restroom. While partaking of a pitstop in a government building, I found myself staring at a bright red, plastic, white-letter engraved, exquisitely composed sign mounted on the stall door. This sign listed the rules of the powder room.
The first rule was, and I paraphrase here: Do not leave sprinkles on the seat. There is nothing unusual about this request, and similar instructions are provided in restrooms throughout our nation.
It was the second rule (again, paraphrased) that caused my amusement: Courtesy flushes are recommended and appreciated. Perform them several times if necessary.
A water-conservative Californian, it took me several minutes to figure out what a courtesy flush was. Apparently, it is customary in the south to immedately flush the toiled after each expulsion of the bowels. This apparently reduces the amount of stench that could possibly offend tender feminine noses in the adjoining stalls (or at the sink if you had the barbequed beans the night before).
Though my water-consciousness prevents me from partaking of this kind ritual, I have to admire the extent to which courtesy is instilled in the southern mind. And, whenever I hear multiple flushings in the women's restroom in the future, I will no longer get annoyed at the wasted water, but will instead remember to appreciate the spirit in which the flushing occurred.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I'm tired today. Three days of hot, loud, dirty, walking up and down a million flights of ship's stairs all day long and sweat sweat sweat, smelling paint fumes, cleanser fumes, solvent fumes, exhaust fumes, and God knows what else, squeezing by painters, welders, tilers, electricians, union union union, yes ma'am, no ma'am, can you help me with this, three bags full. Brown water showers, hotel coffee, fast food dinners, southern hospitality, wine from the grocery store, bottled water, making spoons out of plastic hotel cups cuz I forgot to buy picnic ware at the WalMart where black women were placing 500 items on the belt in the 10 items or less line, beating their kids, yelling at each other, and ignoring everyone in line behind them who were rolling there eyes when they would argue a price or make the clerk take a charge off the receipt because they decided they no longer want the merchandise, driving around in a hoopdie with squishy breaks and air conditioner knobs missing, and automatic headlights that don't turn off when I stop the car.
I think I'm about ready to come home.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
So, I'm going on travel to Mississippi for work next week. I had to get a couple of vaccinations because of the conditions. Word is that there aren't many restaurants open, and the ones that are open usually have really long lines. Could be worse.
I was going to stay aboard ship in a "state room," but they're not letting civilians eat on board. I guess all of the extra money for rations was spent helping hurricane victims, and rightly so. Anyway, staying aboard would have meant hiking a mile out to my car every time I needed a meal and then driving around to find a restaurant.
Fortunately, my colleague hooked me up with a hotel not far from the shipyard. At least I'll have a shower every day and a better chance of getting a hot meal. I just now tried calling the hotel to make sure the amenities listed on the Web site were the ones I could expect in my room. The line was so full of static that I couldn't tell if the recording was messed up or whether it was a bad connection. Repeat attempts gave the same result. I guess phones aren't working too good down there, yet.
It almost feels like I'm going into a war zone. I'm going to take the digital camera and the sketchbook for some off-duty activity. Whew!
Friday, September 16, 2005
I think science really needs to think this technology through before they implement it. I have been doing a little research on hydrogen fuel cell byproducts, and what I've found out makes me concerned for the environment of our cities and suburbs. You're saying to yourself right now, wait a minute, the only byproducts of hydrogen fuel cells are heat and water. Water is harmless, right? We're made up of at least 80 percent water. It's the stuff life!
The problem I forsee is an exponential increase in humidity in cities and immediate areas surrounding cities as hydrogen fuel cell technology becomes common. Exponential? Yes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a vehicle using hydrogen cells puts out 5 ounces of water per car per hour. So, let's say that in one hour 5000 cars commute into your city in the morning. That's 5 ounces times 5000 cars, which equals 25000 ounces or about 195 gallons of water.
(5 x 5000 = 25000/128 [ounces per gallon] = 195.3)
That's 195.3 gallons of water in just one hour of commuting in the morning. The return home will releast an additional 195.3 gallons of water which is a total of about 390 gallons of water. And, that's just your commuter traffic.
That a lot of water. Where is it all going to go? If it is allowed to just evaporate, then that's a whole lot of water added to the atmosphere around a city every day. So what, you say?
I haven't finished the research, yet, but I would imagine that over time the humidity level of the city will increase drastically - like the Palm Springs area after people started building golf courses everywhere. Most places aren't as dry as Palm Springs, so the result of that much added humitity will probably be much more noticeable.
I predict that there will be an increase in respiratory problems because of accelerated mold growth where there used to be almost none, and everyone knows how dangerous mold can be. Increased humidity will also drive asthmatics crazy.
I'm not done thinking this problem through, yet. But there is another avenue to consider. What if the water is allowed to accumulate in the vehicle. Will it be potable? Can you water your plants with it? Will it be the responsibility of the owner of the vehcile to get the water tank siphoned out regularly, like when the fuel cells are changed out? If the water isn't potable, will it be chucked down the drain and allowed to flow into the oceans and rivers? What pollutants will it introduce? Radioactivity? Will we be making mutant sea creatures?
I will find answers to these questions. In fact, I've already pinged the EPA with the question, "Is the water byproduct of hydrogen cells potable?"
Stay tuned and find out.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Ouch! I got hit by a classic PA today. This woman is always doing stuff to piss me off and she always tries to come off like the victim.
Yesterday she stopped me in the hallway and asked me to reschedule a meeting we were supposed to have that day. She told me to schedule it for the next day for the normal time in the same place. So, I sent a high priority email to everyone on the team, including her. In it, I told everyone that the meeting was rescheduled and when.
Today she's walking through the hallway about meeting time and a team member asks her if she's going to the meeting today. She told him that she didn't know we were having a meeting today. I saw her in the hallway a few minutes later with her lunch in her hand and she told me that she didn't know we had a meeting today. I said, "You asked me to reschedule it for today." She said, "No, I said my customer would be gone today about this time." So, she drags herself into the meeting, lunch in hand, and we end up getting kicked out in half an hour anyway because nobody reserved the room. I thought because she told me when to reschedule that she already had the room reserved.
So, basically, she tried to make me look like an ass - by having me call a meeting that we got kicked out of and by making it look like she had to sacrifice her lunch because of it.
I was pretty pissed, but I didn't blow up at her or anything because I realized that she was trying to do the same thing to me that my ex-husband used to do - the Passive-Aggressive Karate Chop!
So, I got online and found some advice on dealing with PAs. I just sent her an email saying that I am not comfortable receiving verbal direction from her and that from today forward I will require that she assign tasks me via email. (Yes, I used an "I" statement instead of a "You" statement! Do I get kudos for that?)
This is about the third time she's screwed me like this. I should have learned from the last two times, but it's been a while since we worked together and I forgot ... I need to listen more to that little bit of uneasiness I feel whenever I have to deal with her. Ah, well, lesson learned.
For information about dealing with Passive-Aggresives, check out these Web sites:
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I was driving to work in the right lane of the freeway and I came up on an older VW Beetle in the second lane. It was primer red but in pretty good shape; obviously in the throes of being lovingly restored. As I approahed on his right, I could hear the defining whistle of the German engine. Then things started to get weird.
I noticed that as I passed the Beetle, I didn't get the expected Doppler effect from the sound of the whilstling engine. I looked in my side view mirror. No Beetle. I looked in my rear view. No round headlamps anywhere. I figured he must be in my blind spot, even though I couldn't hear him, and so I sped up a little. He still wasn't in my side view or my rear view. He wasn't anywhere to be seen at all! Just before my exit, I slowed way down hoping that the mystery Beetle would catch up with me. It never did.
The thing and his dark haired driver just simply disappeared into thin air.
The strange thing is that my mind immediately wanted to dismiss it. My logical brain kept offering practical solutions for the disappearance, and my creative brain seemed willing to accept the explanations offered - but I wouldn't let it go. No. This was real and it was strange, and I'm not going to let it be suppressed by whatever-it-is in my head that needs to have a normal day.
And, now you're afflicted, too.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
A coworker let me borrow his copy of the July 2005 National Geographic this morning so I could read an article in there about the Mars rovers, an interest we share. I have a habit of thumbing through magazines from back to front because I often find the stuff in the back to be far more interesting than a lot of the fluff editors put in the front to pay their bills. Well, I got more than I bargained for this time.
The first shock I got was the photo of a Chechnyan girl by Heidi Bradner, Panos Pictures, that shows the girl's shrivelled legs and her her fake ones that allow her to walk. The child looks none too happy. In contrast to typical American media where we usually only see children with disabilities in ads for the YMCA or Special Olympics, smiling, succeeding, and being supported by their families, Ms. Bradner's photo was the first in the article that brought a local and international reality home: there are still children out there who are orphaned, disabled, unloved, and suffering. They are victims of other people's wars and government power struggles.
I was at work when I encountered the picture, and it was just too much to deal with at the time. I decided to thoroughly read the article later. I continued to flip pages toward the front of the magazine in search of the Mars rover article. Page 89, more orphans ... I can't deal ... page 86, more destruction ... I can't deal ... keep flipping ... page 84, more death ... I just can't deal! ... keep flipping ...
On pages 78 and 79 there's a funeral procession with mourners lining the streets, pall bearers in grief over the body in the small, lace-covered casket of a boy who looks JUST LIKE MY SON did at age four.
Why?! Screamed my head. Why must there be conflict? Why must there be war? Why must governments solve their problems with pollutants and bombs and poisons? Why?
I came close to tears. That photo by Ivan Sekretarev, AP/Wide World Photos really did bring the issue in Chechnya home to me. That could have been my son. That could be my son if the policies of my country's government continue their current path. Why!?
Then I realized that in order to know why means I have to study their reasoning. To know why means I have to understand their ways of thinking. But, to really understand the why, I would have to be like them.
I don't want to be like them! I don't want to know their ways of thinking! I don't want to know why after all! No!
Is government a necessary evil? Does it have to be evil? Do we have to be preemptive? Do we have to have revenge? Do children have to continue to die because we have to? We have to? Do we really have to?
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
I was working at my desk this morning and around 9:05 local I heard a flutter and banging noise outside the window next to my cube. I looked over and there is a little bird trying to get in. He wasn't injured. He didn't fly into the glass. He was trying to take off and fly into my cube, but the glass was preventing him. He tried for about 10 minutes. Poor thing couldn't understand that he couldn't fly through the glass. He kept looking at me and cocking his head, and then he would try to fly through the window. Had he succeeded, he would have landed in my lap!
Birds have been known to be messengers. Usually, it's not good news. I called around to my loved ones to see if everyone is okay. So far, so good..
Thursday, June 16, 2005
I'm 20 minutes away from having all three of my manuals out the door and delivered.
Plus I got 2 other manuals ready for delivery and fixed the parts lists for 5 others.
There's a certain amount of satisfaction in busting one's ass and getting things done under pressure.
I'm a little ticked off, though, than management felt they had to threaten our jobs to get us to meet their imaginary deadline. Oh, well. At least they're paying us.
Friday, June 03, 2005
I'm still trying to get settled in my new life: A new home. A stable relationship. A long distance relationship with my son.
I think I should give myself some time to get used to the new life before I try to figure out how to make my dream happen. Maybe then I will be able to see how to keep earning a good income and get the degree I want. Maybe then I will see a clear path to achieving my dream.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
It's done. For now, it's done. I'm tired. The kid wants to stay. Let him stay. He'll change his mind one day. Meanwhile, I get to be supportive mom from a distance. I didn't want to torture him with the summer camp thing again - up at 5:30 AM, in camp all day, seeing me only in the evenings and weekends. I think this way is better. Several times a year, a week at a time, just us. All of us.
Still, I miss him. The child of my soul. I'll have to find something to fill my time. I'll have to find some way to cope.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
So, just now in between tasks at work, I finally found a moment to cry. Silently, of course. God forbid someone in cube land hear me and complain that I'm making too much noise.
I did a meditation earlier this week, and that made me feel a lot better. I was able to speak to deity and quietly listen for advice. This helped more than anything, I think. This, and the fact that mi novio has been so supportive and loving. I'm a lucky girl.
Every once in a while I'll realize how close the court date is and a moment of panic will sweep over me. I feel so unprepared. Fortunately, on a friend's advice, I contacted the Michigan bar association and they recommended a really good family law attorney. His receptionist was very kind and promised that he would call me back tomorrow. This is such a relief. I would hate to go into this without understanding what to expect or without knowing how to properly introduce evidence to a judge. How terrible it would be to screw this up due to ignorance.
I prayed really hard this week. I held a ritual the other night and prayed that truth will reign that day. Truth and justice. By fire, and wind, and sea, and stone.
It's in the hands of the Universe, now. Between the loving support of my mate, prayers, and good energy from friends, I think I'll be okay. Blessed be.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
The babies fledged this past Saturday. We didn't get to see it because we were packing. Our troubles are over. We don't need to create a temporary bird cage with which to move mom and babies. We don't need to build an aviary nursery at the new house.
In a way, I'm a little disappointed, but in a big way, I'm very relieved.
I received papers today telling me that on 17 May, in Michigan, there will be a hearing to decide what child custody I get for my own son.
My ex told me I was getting "something" in the mail from his lawyer. The coward didn't tell me he was taking me to court. Just like he didn't tell me he was making changes to the divorce agreement in court without me being there, giving him physical custody of the child permanently when it was only supposed to be a temporary arrangement, and the sueing me for child support.
I'm moving this weekend. I just bought a house. I just spent over a thousand dollars on vacation in Michigan to visit my son for his spring break. I'm now scrambling to find representation in Michigan and a way to pay for it before the 17th. That's only two and a half weeks away.
Until this year, I have never allowed anyone to speak badly about my ex husband, the father of my son. He has shown me, however, that he is a man without honor and without integrity. The saddest thing of all is that Blayne now knows it because he is seeing for himself what his father is doing.
I can use all of the positive energy I can get right now.
I'm going to fight this.
Friday, April 22, 2005
Well, they're getting noisier and bigger. I snapped this photo last night while Mom and Dad were away from the nest. Big difference in a very short time! I guess they will be big enough to fly away soon. I hope we get to see it.
Oh! And there are four! (at least?) We thought there were only 3 because that's all we could see last time. There were originally six eggs, and I didn't see any broken ones around the lanai ... so I wonder where the other two are. ???
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Well, Fish and Game called back yesterday. It seems our troubles are over. Our little babies will fledge way before we move out. I hope it's over the weekend so we can watch them flap their little wings for the first time. This might be a rare opportunity to get some action photos of a baby bird's first flight.
This is such a relief. My man and I were trying to figure out all kinds of ways to transport both momma and babies to the new house if we had to ... visions of aviaries danced in our heads.
Well, we have enough to do.
Check back for more pictures, though!
Monday, April 18, 2005
I left my painting easel out on the lanai for a couple of months so I would have somewhere well-ventilated to paint in oils. Well, I hadn't used it for a while because we are buying a house and the escrow process has kept us hopping.
On Easter Sunday, I went outside to get the easel and clean it up a bit so I could pack it. The drawer was stuck and when I forced it open a little I saw all of these leaves and sticks crammed in there. Strange, I thought. So I went around to the back side of the easel to open the hinged top of the drawer. As I barely cracked the drawer open, a bird flew out! There, on the inside, was a hearty nest and six peach, speckled eggs.
A week ago the eggs hatched, and now there are three new baby house wrens in the world.
We're moving in 11 days and we're not sure what to do. Project Wildlife says it's illegal to move a bird's nest, and they won't come out to rescue the babies, and Fish and Game hasn't return my call.
Being nature lovers, we are in quite a bind. We're kicking around possible solutions, but we're not decided on what to do, yet ... and the clock is ticking ...
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Thirty-one lives are gone.
Half of the people who died were probably married. That makes 15 people who are suddenly without the person they intended to share the rest of their lives with.
It's very likely that half of the spouses were caring for two children at home. That makes 14 children who will grow up without the father or mother they know and depend on for love and protection.
It's very likely that 3/4 of the people who died in Iraq today have parents who are still alive. That makes 22 people who are feeling the deepest sorrow that a parent can know; that their child has died. Parents are supposed to die before their children, aren't they?
It's also very likely that 3/4 of the people who died in Iraq today have a sibling. That makes 11 brothers and sisters who have lost a lifelong friend. And what about their spouses and children?
So, 31 people died in Iraq today. And, at least 62 people have had their lives changed forever. That doesn't seem like many in a country of several billion. But these 62 people are impacting all of our lives.
They are taking off of work today because of sorrow and loss and their coworkers have to pick up the slack.
They are missing school and the big algebra test that is 25% of their grade or they are missing the school play where they held a principle roll and are forcing others to have to unexpectedly step in.
They are getting in car accidents because they are distracted and distraught and the old lady who was injured has no medical insurance, so public money is paying for her recovery and physical therapy.
War impacts us all every day whether we turn on the news or not. Shouldn't we, therefore, do every thing we can to avoid war? Shouldn't we choose war only as a last result to solving problems?
Iraq is a war of choice. Osama bin Laden does not live in Iraq, nor does he have anything to do with Iraq. Our efforts and our military should be focused on him and Afghanistan only right now.