Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day Trip to PTown

Our friends think we're nuts to take a day trip to PTown.  It's only about 4 hours.  We left home at 6 AM and we were at our first stop at PTown Doggie Park by 10.  Then it was off to Coastal Acres campground to make our reservations for September.

Used my Senior Citizen National Parks Pass to get free parking at the beach where we enjoyed a few hours of sitting and walking along the shore.  It was overcast but I said to Leon, I felt better than I have all summer.  The beach is where I am most content.  I've always said, "A cloudy day at the beach is better than a sunny day at work".  Although I am not working now...

My favorite comfy T-Shirt from the March on Washington 1987
 Back home the balloon flowers are blooming
 And the strelizia keeps growing...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Father Mychal Judge Nominated for Congressional Gold Medal

Father Mychal Judge was a Catholic Franciscan priest who lost his life on 9/11 while ministering to those wounded and dying in the North Tower.  Father Mychal was chaplain to the New York City Firefighters and openly gay.

Link to Bilgimage blog here for the story and how you can help advance this nomination.

Link here to the Mychal Judge website.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Breaking News: Prices on Everything To Go Up 64%


Imagine that headline on the evening news or your local newspaper which was $1.50 and is now $2.46.

The $4 gallon of milk at Fast Mart is now $6.56.

The $100 grocery bill rings up at $164 now and that will come out of your wallet every time you stock up.

The electric bill has been pretty steady at $130 per month but from now on you'll be paying $213.

A fill-up of fuel oil for the coming winter is now $820 instead of the $500 you budgeted and there will be more fill-ups to come.

That inexpensive refrigerator at Sears just went from $390 to $640.  Thank goodness you don't have to buy one every month.  Forget the Honda Fit at $18,000 - its now just about $30,000.

As one of the fortunate low-income individuals eligible for the State's Low Income Health Insurance Plan my rates just went up 64%.  How in any Deity's Name can this be justified?  What other commodity can get away with this kind of exorbitant price increase?  Perhaps this is, in part, due to the State's fiscal crisis, but it surely is mainly due to the Insurance Mafia that is allowed to continually extort the consumer for more profits.

When WILL this end?

Yesterday's Post

I have added a bit of commentary to yesterday's post.  The point is that such "reports" are used by conservatives and Fox News to advance the idea that social programs are not needed and should be cut.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's UnAmerican for Poor People to Have Refrigerators -Re-edit

The American Heritage Foundation, a Right-Wing-Nut "think tank" thinks the poor have too many luxuries.

Imagine a single parent working two jobs to earn $12,000 per year and raising three kids.  If this family actually has a refrigerator to keep a gallon of milk and some hot dogs in and if the kids have an xbox that they got at Goodwill, well, then they're not really poor.  Really poor people have sour milk and spoiled hot dogs because they have nowhere to keep food cold.  And the kids have a cardboard box to play in if they're lucky.

The report makes generalizations such as: "Father absence is another major cause of child poverty. Nearly two-thirds of poor children reside in single-parent homes; each year, an additional 1.5 million children are born out of wedlock. If poor mothers married the fathers of their children, almost three-quarters would immediately be lifted out of poverty."

If poor mothers married the fathers of their children?... I can think of a dozen reasons why this statement is nonsense, not the least of which is that it does not follow logically either that children in single parent homes "are born out of wedlock" or that their fathers will automatically bring in the bacon.

And I guess the idea of "Bring us your poor" is also un-American as the report states "As long as the present steady flow of poverty-prone persons from foreign countries continues, efforts to reduce the total number of poor in the U.S. will be far more difficult." 

The report goes on to make the case that the poor in the US are actually quite comfortable as evidenced by material possessions (cars, TV's, VCRs, dishwashers, air conditioning, refrigerators, microwaves), and overall living space.

The report uses charts with data references but does not show how the data from different sources is integrated or combined to produce the resulting charts.  I find this quite suspect.

The thrust of the report is that the US poor are not really that bad off compared to the really poor in other countries; the implication is that we need not worry about the poor in America, they are doing OK.  So perhaps all those social programs are not really necessary.  They are costing the "rest of us" tax dollars.

So there is no need to raise the standard of living for those with least - it is already higher than they deserve. And they are obese too, so they are apparently getting too much to eat.  Really poor people are starving.

The author makes statements that are unsubstantiated: "The most common problem facing poor households was late payment of rent or utilities. While having difficulty paying monthly bills is stressful, in most cases late payment did not result in material hardship or deprivation."

He dismisses the inability to pay for utilities and rent as merely "stressful" and just because it does not always result in the electricity being turned off or eviction, it has no resulting "material hardship or deprivation".

The report is clearly biased against the poor and low income families, is clearly meant to advance the agenda of the most conservative and privileged to cut government spending on social programs that have actually helped bring the poor up to the "high" standards that the report points to as evidence that the poor are not actually poor.  The reasoning is tautological.

I add the following because sometimes one just has to laugh at the stupidity that is all around us. Colbert reports on this new "study" that surely helps inform the tea party congress in their deliberations.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
"Poor" in America
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flowers On A Hot Summer Day

It's nice to know that while out illustrious, do-nothing congress holds the country hostage and marriage equality is up for debate and human rights are summarily dismissed in places like Ghana, flowers still blossom, as if nothing is more important than a show of color.

My sister-in-law gave us this hydrangea about seven years ago.  It has never blossomed because I kept trimming back the "dead" shoots in winter.  Finally, Leon was listening to the Plant Lady on the local PBS radio last fall and she said not to cut back the dead wood.  Well, I now have blossoms and, even more special is the fact that it is a Lace Hydrangea - a lacy center surrounded by the large, more typical hydrangea flowers.  I did not expect such a surprise!
The Uncommon But Lovely
Lace Hydrangea
In the Dog Park - a big field where people let their dogs run, the chicory is in bloom - the same cool blue as the hydrangea.

Also in bloom is the lowly Queen Anne's Lace, which I always considered weedy and homely, but it does have it's own special loveliness.

See Queen Anne in the center of the flower

Thursday, July 14, 2011

B&B - Closed for Season

The family visitors are packing the van as I write this and we are ready for some peace and relaxation.

When they arrived Monday evening I had a big pot of spaghetti sauce with meatballs and sausage waiting. On tuesday morning, Leon accompanied them to Misquamicut Beach where the kids had a great time and they all ate seafood dinners at a restaurant on the beach.

Sisterinlaw and the kids went to an amusement park on Wednesday after I whipped up a breakfast of a dozen and a half scrambled eggs, toast and cereal. Later, Leon and his brother visited a friend with auto parts. (They are both "CarPeople".  

Meanwhile I prepared for the evening cookout (burgers, dogs, barbecue pork, potato salad, fresh green bean-from-the-garden salad, green salad, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries and ice cream) for dinner. 

Today, what must be a "10" for New England weather, we are getting the camper ready for a weekend in New Hampshire at Mountainside Campground, a quasi-campground for gay men.  Quasi- because they are only open on weekends and they aren't set up for electric/water/sewer hook-ups.  They do have RV sites, tent sites, a guest cabin and a bunkhouse.  

It is near our favorite Vermont hang-outs: Harriman Reservoir (the Ledges) 
Archival Photo - the Ledges
 and, of course Rock River.  I think we will go to the lake (reservoir) on Saturday because it is nice for swimming and pretty relaxing.
Recent Photo - Rock River

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The "B & B" is Ready For Guests (Edited)

Guests (Leon's family - Mom dod not come but an additional grandnephew did for a total of 2 adults and 4 kids) arrived Monday and all was ready, inside and out.  We saw to every detail, just like those fancy B&B's.  Here are some pics of the yard and gardens:
The Outdoor Shower - We Love It!
Most Guests Are Too Shy To Use It However
Palmetto, Fuchsia, Papyrus, Pine Bonsai, Red Maple
The Cactus/Rock Garden
A Real Pain to Weed
After Like Six Years, Finally Blossoming
Don't Cut Back the Dead Wood
Vegetable Garden
Doing Just OK This Year
Stella D'Oro
Leon Weeded for Days
His New Rain Gauge and Thermometer
Last Sunday we took a break and went to the Rock River Vermont (where we met 23 years ago in August).  They have a new, what I would call a "low environmental impact information kiosk" with the info etched in clear plexiglass or something.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Report 2 - The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

Picked up this book at Heathrow in March. As I've said, I'm not much of a reader because I'm slow and tend to nod off. This is only the second book I've read all the way through in the past year or so.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, an Australian author, is an interesting study of a cast of diverse characters in a Melbourne middle class community.  They are all at a backyard barbecue when one of the characters, Harry, slaps a bratty kid, Hugo.  The kid's overprotective mother decides to have Harry arrested.  This in turn sets the group of friends and relatives to confront their values and loyalties.  Each chapter of the book centers on one main character and how they relate to their family and friends.  What makes the narrative more interesting is the varied religious and cultural backgrounds of the characters that influence their behaviors and beliefs: Greeks, Indians, Aussies, Aboriginals, Muslims, Canadians, Middle class, white trash, gay teen and all.

There's super masculine, Greek-god, Hector, his beautiful Indian wife Aisha, her friend Rosie, the obsessive mother of four-year-old-stil-breast-feeding-Hugo, and her deadbeat husband, Gary;  Gay teen Richie and his best friend Connie, both of whom had the hots for Hector;  the Greek patriarch Manolis, Hector's father and of course cousin Harry, the slapper, and his wife Sandi, to name a few of the main protagonists.

The book is not so much a story as a somewhat voyeuristic look at the private lives and thoughts of this interesting group of individuals.  Some of the reviews disparage the book for its hot, sexy scenes, but I found nothing offensive there.  It is well crafted and the writing is excellent.   If I ever thought I could write a string of sentences that would entice others to read what I had to say, I now know I am deluded.  Tsiolkas has a mastery of language that I can only aspire to.  A good beach book.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Italian for "nasty, ugly, wicked, ill-tempered".  This too shall pass...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Yellow Rose of Connecticut?

Years ago when I lived 10 miles from here, my Prickly Pear (native to Northeast coastal regions - Opuntia humifusa) used to blossom around June 24, and I used to have a"Cactus Blossom  Party";  but in this microclimate (north side of Fall Mountain) all my flowers are two weeks late and, well no party.  Click to enlarge.


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