Finito la Commedia

Didn’t realize gardening involved so much killing
June 27, 2009, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Comment, Commentary

When I first was looking to buy a home, I tried to buy a condo so I could avoid all this gardening, snow shoveling and other maintenance. Alas, the dream of affordable homeownership without any hassle has gone the way of the dodo, and for much the same reason.

So here I am in my beautiful 1939 bungalow, which is great. Interior decorating? I’m all over it. Gardening? Wow. Not so much. Still, there are things to be learned in life, and gardening is as good a place as any to learn them.

Growing up in Colorado, I watched my mom spend hours at the back-breaking, sweaty labor of preparing the ground, planting annuals (which, although they were pretty, always struck me as a monumental waste), tending the roses, and weeding, weeding, weeding. Her gardens were beautiful every year, and she claims to have loved all that gardening.

I have always lived much in my head, so I wasn’t the little girl who wanted to help mommy with the weeding. (My mom didn’t win the “little helper” lottery.) Still, I did want to talk to mommy, and I watched and watched and watched.

In Colorado, it’s a challenge to get anything to grow at all. It’s dry as dust and your top soil is likely to be clay. You have to bring in arable top soil. Identifying weeds is easy — they’re big and ugly and probably have stickers. It’s rare to find a flowering “weed” in Colorado — except, of course, for dandelions.

Historically, there were virtually no trees on the plains. Trees need water, so on the grasslands of the great American desert, travelers kept an eye out for trees because they indicated a water source relatively close to the surface. You’d see the occasional cottonwood stand; not a dense tangle of old growth and underbrush.

I love trees. I love forests. I love leaf mold and the smell of mushrooms.

Here in Minnesota, the ground is damp and loamy and the soil is black. I’ve spent the spring watching my home’s previous owners’ gardens appear, green up, and bloom. As I’ve watched, the gardens have thickened with a proliferation of green life, much of it unknown to a grass-desert native. Some of these plants are clearly intentional; neatly set in rows, or showing signs of pruning. Others are perhaps not, but are often just as beautiful.

Weeds are just plants you don’t want in your garden, so I guess I can choose what to keep and what to pull out. Kill.

More troubling to this Colorado girl are the trees that seem to grow with the lightest touch of animas. Not that they do, but that I have to kill them.

They grow in cracks in my garage foundation. They grow where they will eventually undermine my garage or house. They grow where they will undermine my neighbors’ garage. Beautiful baby maple trees, and I have to yank them out.

So, gardening, fairly enough, involves killing. Killing weeds. It’s still sad, though, when your weeds are maple trees.


Sounds like Kinky Friedman

“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”
                                                                                              – Butch Hancock

One of the signs you no longer live in a democracy–election shenanigans

This article, which just appeared in the New York Times, describes a GOP effort to split the electoral vote in California (but not in Republican strongholds).  If successful, they would likely win the White House in 2008, even if they lose by a substantial margin of the popular vote.

Please forward to any Democrat friends you have who live in California or know fellow Democrats in California.

OPINION | September 18, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist: G.O.P.’s Dirty Tricks Begin

The folks who gave us the Willie Horton ads, the Swift boat campaign, the purges of black voters in Florida and endless other dirty electoral tricks are at it again.

The folks who gave us the Willie Horton ads, the Swift boat campaign, the purges of black voters in Florida and endless other dirty electoral tricks are at it again.

Like crack addicts confronting the irresistible vial, the evil geniuses of the G.O.P. can’t seem to help themselves. This time — with an eye toward seizing the White House again next year, even if they lose the popular vote — they’re trying to rewrite the rules for the distribution of electoral votes in California.

Under current law, all of California’s 55 electoral votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote statewide. This “winner take all” system is the norm in the U.S. It’s in place in all but two states, Maine and Nebraska, which have just four and five electoral votes, respectively.

Now comes a move, from lawyers with close ties to the Republican Party, to scrap the current system in California and replace it with one that would divide up the electoral votes in a way that would likely give 20 or more of them to the candidate who loses the popular vote in the state.

Democrats fear, correctly, that this maneuver could checkmate even their best efforts to win back the White House next year.

California is widely expected to go Democratic in the presidential election. Its 55 electoral votes are a hefty chunk of the 270 needed to win, and thus crucial to Democratic hopes.

Under this new proposal, the 20 or more electoral votes that would be denied the winner of the statewide vote in California, could well be enough to hand the White House to a Republican candidate who loses the popular vote nationally.

“Their idea is to have California be the only big state to do this,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist who is supporting Senator Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. “If the Republicans can poach 20 electoral votes from the Democrats in California, that’s the same as winning all the electoral votes in Ohio. You’re basically giving them the election.”

The effort to change the way Californians vote for president has been cloaked in the typically deceptive garb that the G.O.P. pulls out for its underhanded maneuvering. The proposal has been dubbed the “Presidential Election Reform Act.” It is being led by Thomas Hiltachk of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, a law firm that has represented both the state Republican Party and G.O.P. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to The Associated Press, the firm was also linked to a political committee, largely funded by Bob Perry, that targeted Democratic candidates in 2006. Mr. Perry, a longtime supporter of George W. Bush, contributed millions of dollars to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose intense and deceptive campaign in 2004 was so damaging to the candidacy of John Kerry.

This crowd is no more interested in genuine electoral reform than Britney Spears is.

Mr. Hiltachk and his operatives are trying to gather enough signatures to get their proposal before the voters as a California ballot initiative next June. If they succeed, and the voters approve the initiative, the rules for apportioning the state’s electoral votes would be changed for the 2008 presidential election.

Instead of “winner take all,” 53 of the state’s 55 electoral votes would be apportioned according to the winner of the presidential popular vote in each of the state’s 53 Congressional districts. A single vote would be awarded to the winner in each district. (The other two votes would still go to the statewide winner.)

John Kerry defeated George W. Bush in California in 2004 and collected all of the state’s electoral votes. But Mr. Bush won the popular vote in 22 of the state’s Congressional districts. If this proposed system had been in effect, 22 electoral votes would have been withheld from Mr. Kerry and given to Mr. Bush.

“This clearly is a power grab by the Republican Party,” said John Travis, a longtime political science professor at Humboldt State University in California. Mr. Travis believes that while there may be problems with the Electoral College system, this is not the way to fix it.

“This is simply a way for the Republicans to manipulate California’s electoral votes to their advantage,” he said.

Democrats do not have perfectly clean hands when it comes to this sort of thing. A similar effort by Democrats in North Carolina was scrapped at the insistence of national party leaders, and not a moment too soon.

What the Democrats need to do now is make sure that California voters understand that they are the latest targeted pawns in the G.O.P.’s longstanding efforts to undermine not just the Democrats but democracy itself.

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Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Here’s a thought

“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt; it’s certainty.”
-Christian writer Anne Lamott

Damn, that’s funny!

“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”

– Butch Hancock

Great Products!
June 3, 2007, 6:12 pm
Filed under: Comment, Commentary, Society, Super-Cool Stuff

So now I’m a shill for the big corporations. <wink>

But seriously – I’ve found quite a few great products in the last few months, so I thought I’d publicize them for your enjoyment/benefit. Here they are:

Curel Continuous Comfort Lotion

1) Curel Continuous Comfort lotion: available at major retailers

I’m not saying this is better than other lotions in the newly created “24 hour” group, but I do love this.

I’m very picky about lotion–I hate greasy lotions that stay on your hands, and I don’t remember to use lotion very often, so this is great. It rubs in quickly and lasts a long time. It has totally cured my dry skin. Awesome!

DHC Washing Powder

2) DHC Washing Powder: available at

I have problem skin. Yuck. I’m 37 and still get acne, although not nearly as bad as I did in law school–thank goodness!

Anyway, besides acne, I was also getting black dots (blackheads that are not pimples), whiteheads, congested pores (from using too much moisturizer or too thick of moisturizer), and large pores! I was starting to freak.

This is a powder (which makes it great for plain travel–no restrictions!), which you wet before use. It’s kind of like Woolite for your face. It has done a great job with the blackheads and whiteheads, although hasn’t affected the acne. The best part is, it has really refined my pores and made my skin look younger!

DHC is a Japanese skin care company recently come to America, and their stuff is generally available only through their catalog or Web site (they have one store in Southern California). They send out free samples and offer free shipping for orders of $75 or more. They even sell Japanese foods!

DHC Velvet Skin Coat

3) DHC Velvet Skin Coat: available at

Hey–what could be better? Velvet skin. Sounds awesome.

Actually, it is pretty great. I put it on my eyelids, below my eyes, and on my nose for a lovely skin texture and a natural “made up” appearance, and to control shine. It’s clear; not makeup. It makes a great base for eye makeup–using a base makes your eye makeup look fresher longer. If you use it on your whole face, your skin really will feel like velvet (although you can certainly tell there’s something there)! LOVE IT.

Keen's Honey Foam Bath

4) Keen’s Honey Foam Bath: available at Target and probably other places

This is from a South African company, which I kind of think is good. Crescit cum commercio civitas*, and all that.

Anyway, it’s pretty cheap for a bubble bath (about $10 where I live, for about 6 baths), and it does smell exactly like honey. Rich later. Yummy.

It does not, however, contain a great deal of honey, nor is it particularly “natural.” Your usual bunch of chemicals and fragrences. Honey is near the bottom of the list of ingredients. Still, awesome!

*For those who didn’t go to a republican college: “the commenwealth waxeth with commerce.”

Update: Gee, that SUV makes your butt look big! and other ideas from an evil genius

SUVs are only an attempt to make you look cool - not a success

Back when I originally wrote “Gee, that SUV makes your butt look big! and other ideas from an evil genius,” I included these fun pictures to further illustrate my point. Somehow, they got left out of the final post. Thought you’d enjoy this evidence of people’s real feelings about their SUVs:

SUVs make you look like you have a small dick and itty bitty ballsSUVs make you look like you're compensating

Compensating for something, are they?