Sunday, May 18, 2008

My Ideal Candidate

Here's my ideal candidate for president.
  • Female
  • Part Hispanic, part Black, part White.
  • Born to a low income illegal immigrant family
  • Raised in a broken home by a single mom
  • Earned everything through hard work
  • Educated at a state university
  • Intelligent, independent, questioner of accepted truths
  • Never reveals her tentative and evolving religious beliefs
  • Unassailable integrity and ethics
  • Proven leadership ability
  • No experience in Washington
  • Advocates responsible citizenship but not patriotism
  • Comfortably wealthy but not overly rich
  • Not a member of either major political party
  • Sees wars other than wars of last resort reactive self-defense as moral and diplomatic failures
  • Characterized by compassion, wisdom and a belief in self-reliance
  • Believes in and practices democracy
  • Commits self to appointing intelligent and fearless advisors with dissenting opinions and philosophies without regard to political affiliation
  • Does not use fear as a means of manipulation

That's my choice. As for platform and positions on the issues, I really don't care. Having a person of integrity who is truly representative of Americans would be enough for me.

That's it. That's my one and only political statement for this year.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Aching Knees

"Take care of your knees!"

My mother gave me this advice several years ago after she had surgery on a knee. At the time I smiled but wondered "How does one take care of knees?"

In my late twenties and early thirties I worked with a crew roofing houses. At the end of the first summer we broke in late November or early December for the winter and didn't return to work until March. For weeks after the last job my knees remained swollen, stiff and would sometimes feel like they engaged a lock when half erect upon attempting to stand from a sitting position. After that first season I had no knee pain during the next few years that I roofed.

Floor Tile
Floor nears half completion. (Larger version)

This weekend Julie and I installed floor tile. She purchased inexpensive (aka: cheap) knee pads and used them. I chose the impoverished route and decided to work without knee pads. In the end I learned something and remembered another item. I learned installing tile on a level concrete floor is more painful than installing shingles on a pitched lumber roof and I remembered that I'm no longer impoverished.

On Saturday evening we had to go to town for supper with friends. Since we'd be in town I suggested we stop by a lumber yard and buy knee pads. I selected a pair, a not inexpensive pair, slipped a knee into one pad and knelt on the floor.

"Julie, you've got to try these."

"That's OK. I'll use the ones I have."

"No! Try these!"

She agree and tried them.

"Oh! Wow!"

We left with two pairs.

Mom would be happy to know I finally took her advice.

(PS: AC, I try to be an "indestructible physical specimen" but the truth is that I'm not and am becoming more destructible with age. I don't like to admit it but that's the truth.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Memories from My Small World

My world is alive with birds, rodents, hares, snakes, rabbits, lizards, antelope, amphibians and insects! I watch for movement, a flash of color or an unmoving familiar shape that reveals an animal trying to hide in the bunch grass. Almost every week I see a new animal or some unusual behavior

Three years ago an Antelope Squirrel gave birth to a litter beneath the Juniper that is closest to the kitchen window. Several mornings we watched the young squirrels and laughed at the way they scrambled for a hole into the den when startled.

Two years ago a lizard kicked up a minor dust storm digging in the hard soil by the front walk. Julie ventured a guess that it was a female preparing to lay eggs. Later in the afternoon I checked and the small hole had been covered. I placed a stone beside the location to mark and protect it. A few weeks later I saw a small exit hole and tiny lizards darting for hiding spots each time I passed their way.

Year before last a rock squirrel regularly visited an oriole feeder that hung on a limb of a dead tree. In the early morning light the sun would sparkle through the drops of nectar that dripped from her chin as she tipped the feeder to drink.

Backyard Awaiting Landscaping. (Larger version)

Already this year I have had a hummingbird sit on my finger as it drank from a feeder. I've seen more doves, cow birds and lark sparrows than I've ever seen at one time. Cedar Waxwings have come for water the last two evenings and the rabbits have performed entertaining acrobatics. Night before last an Oriole sat in a Juniper near a feeder and attacked all hummingbirds that came near. I'd never witnessed this behavior before that evening.

On the outside looking in.
On the outside looking in. (Larger version)

These are all good memories but one of the best is the Gophersnake that was hunting around the house. I came upon him on the east end of the house. He was startled and turned to avoid me. I gave him room to feel safe and watched for a few minutes. He continued his hunt for a opening to get under the house in search of mice. I watched as he checked high and low for an opening. I left him to his search knowing his efforts were futile.

Later in the day I was in the sun room when I saw him passing the windows that are just a few inches above the ground. As I walked over for a closer look he paused and looked in the window at me. Looking into his eyes I saw intelligence and sadness. Yes, that's just my interpretation. The intelligence was there without doubt. Sadness? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps it was my sadness for the prejudice that he and his kind suffers.

Passing by
Passing by. (Larger version)

After a moment of mutual examination he continued around the house. As he passed the door I opened it and once again we studied one another.

Then I did a selfish thing. As he passed the door I reached out and touched his tail. Just a light touch but enough to scare him into rushing away from me.

In the end I discovered I was wrong. His search was not futile. On the north side of the house he found a small hole that seemed about half the diameter of his body. When I last saw him he had slightly over two feet of his length under the house and about two feet exposed. He was straining to get the rest of his body through the hole. He's welcome to the free room and all the mice he can find.

The snake gave me another good memory . Unfortunately I'm getting older and my memory isn't what it once was. But, no matter. Each year brings new memories like this.