Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31 - Whatever you please

My granddaughter cuddling her favorite doll.

And … she's outta here

Sandy came, hung out with us for a bit and went on her way. It was, um, disconcerting to have snow so early in the year, but at least we don't have the devastation and destruction she dropped on other parts of the northeast. West Virginia is served by two different power companies. The one who takes care of our electrical needs still has nearly 100,000 customers to get back up and running.

New Jersey. New York. Oh, my, how hard it must be to try to put all that back together. My heart hurts for you.

Since yesterday was a snow day here, I spent it doing nothing I normally would do. I went back to bed after having been up for a couple of hours and slept until 10:30 a.m. (Partly because I was having dizzy spells; it just seemed safer to remain in a prone position.) I was fine when I woke up again, so I got to work on more party favors. (I didn't even make dinner. We snacked.)

One of the projects I finished yesterday –
I got the idea at a football party, where
we all had "bad call bricks"  – scrubbie
sponges from the Dollar Store – to throw
when a referee blew a call. 
I'm nearly done with the goodie bags. I quit last night at 7:30, and have just two projects remaining. But since I'm leaving today and won't be back until Saturday, they will have to wait. My printer has already thanked me.

It occurred to me as I was waking up this morning that I might get some additional swag and/or party decorations at one of the many Obama campaign offices there must be throughout the state. You swing states have all the fun. We here in southern West Virginia haven't gotten so much as a bumper sticker from the national campaign. I hear there's an office in the northern panhandle, but that's more like DC than WV.

So, North Carolina, look out. I have plenty of room to haul buttons and stickers and signs, oh my. And I'm headed your way.

Tomorrow is the first day of BlogHer's NaBloPoMo. An exercise to get you blogging every day, it has worked quite well for me. Since last November 1, I've posted 587 entries to this blog. Some have been just photos, but even on most photo days I've blathered on about something in a separate post.

I'm more excited that I've only missed two days of taking a photo every day since the first of the year. With two months to go, I think this will be my first year of almost-daily participation. Every other year I've tried I ended up quitting sometime in the spring. I must give credit to a new smartphone, FatMumSlim (who provides the prompts I've been using) and Instagram. I also use another photo app called Pixlr-o-matic for additional filters and effects.

My husband spontaneously told me yesterday how happy he was that we were married. He said, "Your glass is always half full. Mine is often two-thirds empty. You're so good for me." Well I gotta tell you that took me by surprise. But he's right: My glass is half-full, nearly always, and I think it's because I really know how to rock a snow day.

And now? She's outta here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30 - Clothes

The view from my pillow of clothes tossed on the bedside chair.
I woke up at 4:30 this morning, went back to bed with dizzy spells
about 8 a.m. and then got up at 10:30, raring to go. 

Winners … and winter

It ended up that there were multiple comments, but suggestions for favors came from three readers, so I'm going to send each of you – Jen, Denise and Winnie – a goodie bag. Congratulations! Send your mailing addresses to me at: shrinkingknitter AT gmail DOT com.

I'll try to get them in the mail so you'll have them by Election Night, but no promises. I still have a lot of work to do on them.

I woke up really early, wide awake, and turned the television on to see the utter devastation in New York. I then texted REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. It's not much, but if we all do it … well, it could make a big difference. I can't quite believe the pictures I'm seeing. I'd compare it to one of those disaster movies, but I've never seen one so I'm not sure which title would fit best.

So far we have less than two inches of crunchy snow here in the Middle of Nowhere. My dog Hershey very delicately tiptoed outside an hour or so ago and came right back in. It's still snowing. Beckley, WV, which is 45 minutes northwest  of us (and 2000 feet higher), has EIGHT inches, according to the Weather Channel.

The power blipped a couple of times in the night, and the internet connection has been out briefly a couple of times this morning, but – crossing fingers – it looks like the new power poles which were erected following the derecho have remained standing. We've also had tree-trimming crews working nearly every day in the area for the past four months, cutting limbs from around power lines and getting rid of trees which were ready to topple.

I'm not sure if gasoline or municipal taxes pay for that service. I would assume one or the other (or some other form of taxation) does, but I Googled and can't find out for sure. (Should I be Bing-ing instead of Googling?) At any rate, it's times like these when you really have to think that, yes, government is a good thing, and taxes aren't all bad.

The wind is blowing steadily at around 22 mph, according to the weather widget on my phone, with gusts to 35.

Before I went to bed yesterday I:
  • ran the dishwasher
  • did laundry
  • took a shower
  • filled many vessels with water
  • removed potential airborne projectiles from our property
  • filled two insulated carafes with coffee
The potential projectiles included our campaign yard signs. I saw a virtual one from a local candidate on Facebook, and thought it was such a great idea that I put one on my Timeline.

I'm not sure I'm changing anyone's mind at this late date, though. Maybe some early Mitt voters will be sorry when they are reminded of his primary debate position to turn emergency disaster relief services over to the private sector. Isn't that the same as insurance? My dad lived in Florida and he couldn't even buy hurricane insurance!

But I digress. And I don't want to digress this morning. I want to stay safe and warm and I want to wish anyone in Hurricane Sandy's path comfort and good wishes for your safety and warmth, as well. May you be, in every way possible, sheltered from the storm.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29 - Moon

Sandy made sure we had too much cloud cover to see the full moon.


Y'all must throw some pretty cool parties! Thanks for all the suggestions for favors in yesterday's comments. Keep 'em coming!

If you're a new reader, feel free to jump in. I'm looking for election-night party ideas that are small enough to fit in a lunch bag and that I can make myself. (Yes, Denise, with what I have on hand.) If you leave a comment by 6 p.m. EDT today, you'll be entered in a random drawing to win one of the swag bags I'm giving away at the party.

I actually did have blue mardi gras beads on my shopping list, Jen, but haven't found them in quantity. I've found them online, but it's too late to get them shipped on time without spending an arm and a leg. And you know what? I don't have an extra arm or leg right now.

What I do have is a trip to North Carolina, beginning Wednesday and returning Saturday. I'll be in the Triangle area. AND I have some non-family time to myself on Thursday, when everyone will be at work or school. Party City here I come!

Here's another one I thought of – you Democrats will love it. I bought some blank 3x5 note pads and will glue on these clever new covers I made yesterday:
  • The Complete Romney/Ryan Foreign Policy Plan
  • The Unwavering Views of Willard Mitt Romney
  • The Compassion of Willard Mitt Romney
  • The Complete Romney/Ryan Plan for Restoring America
  • Willard Mitt Romney's Complete Tax Returns
I love that last one the best. Heh.

In other news, the storms are converging from both the northwest and the southeast and will wreak havoc on parts of West Virginia. Fortunately not my part, but I feel badly for those in the bright-red blizzard zone.

We were originally expecting 5 to 8 inches of snow. Now the weather service is saying maybe an inch today, and little to no additional accumulation tomorrow. But it will be windy, and we're all a little skittish about wind after this summer's derecho. If you pray, please pray that our power remains on. Thank you.

Finally, to answer a just-received comment, here's the Electoral College map I'm using. I think. My husband is going to come up with some pertinent facts and we're going to add a list of swing states. I'm going to remove the verbiage that's already there. If this doesn't suit your purposes, Jen, check Google Images for Electoral College Map 2012. I'm glad my husband is as knowledgeable as he is, because he took one look at my first download and said, "Um, that's the 2008 map."

How did he remember that Texas picked up four more EC votes this election? 'Tis not for me to question, I'm just glad he helped prevent me from looking stupid!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28 - Looking back

Sitting in my customary spot in front of the computer at the table,
I held the phone up, turned it around and shot what was behind me.

How about a favor?

It just occurred to me that when I asked for suggestions for party favors, and offered a goodie bag to a random winner, I didn't put an end date on my request.

So let's make it Monday evening at 6 p.m. If you can think of any DIY ideas for election-night party favors that will fit in a lunch-sized bag, please let me know in a comment. Winnie came up with some great ideas, thanks so much! I picked up some supplies yesterday, but there's still quite a bit of room in the bag.

Each commenter between yesterday and Monday at 6 will be entered into a random number generator and the winner will get a goodie bag.

Get your election thinking caps on, gang. Ready? Set? GO!

Oh, what a night


I started out yesterday in the garden. Remember the garden? Yes, it's still out there, and yes, it still needs attention. Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy might prevent me from doing the final stuff I should have been doing all month.

(Elections are hard work. If I starve next year because my garden isn't producing I'll blame it on President Obama. NOT!)

Anyway, with the predicted Frankenstorm predicted to dump several inches of snow here tomorrow, I thought it best to get some garlic in the ground. I planted 30 cloves, 20 hardneck and 10 softneck. That's less than last year, but should be enough. I might not have any to share, though.

I came in from that chore, got all spiffed up and headed for the state capitol and my first Jefferson-Jackson dinner. Which was SO MUCH FUN.

L to R, standing: Congressman Nick Rahall, Governor Earl Tomblin, State
Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio. Seated, L to R: Senator Jay
Rockefeller, me, Senator Joe Manchin.

Here's the thing about living in a small state. We only have three Congressional districts. Mine is the only district held by a Democrat. Congressman Nick Joe Rahall is very visible when he's in the state. If you're politically active, you're going to run into him several times during a campaign and yes, I know it's his job, but he remembers you and calls you by name and thanks you for being active.

Last night was a Big Deal. Each of the chosen Outstanding Democrats (one from each county) was introduced and walked across the stage, waving to the crowd of 700(!) people. The line-up prior to the introductions was lots of fun. I met some great people, including a woman I "know" from Facebook and Instagram.

My involvement with the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women has opened many doors and allowed me to meet many influential people. It's interesting and fun and pretty heady stuff for a girl who began the day planting garlic and ended it surrounded by movers and shakers.

My husband and I left the convention hall with the keynote speaker, former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, who asked for directions to the Marriott. And we walked to the parking garage with Congressman Rahall, who got in his car (which looked a lot like my Ford Escape, but I couldn't be sure) and drove himself home.

Just like I did. Point being, these folks are regular folks (and most of them would be the first to say so) who have had some advantages most regular folks haven't. Yes, they're ambitious and yes, they enjoy power. But I've talked to every one of those pictured above, at length, and for the most part I believe they're doing a good job for me.

I hope you feel the same way about your elected officials. If you don't – work for someone who does.

I'm not going to blame President Obama for anything. I sure do give him credit for introducing me to an entirely new way of life and service, though.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27 - Morning

This could be the last of these flowers. We're supposed to get snow
Monday and Tuesday. Good-bye, fall … welcome, winter!

Here she comes

So Sandy (I'm assuming Sandy is a girl name, although I worked for a man named Sandy for many years once upon a time), a tropical storm of which I knew nothing until Thursday, is scheduled to drop a lot of precipitation over the northeast next week. We will get an outer band of it, beginning this weekend. Probably. One never knows with the weather.

If temperatures remain moderate, we will get rain and more rain. But it could be snowing by Halloween.

At least today will be temperate. My husband and I are headed to the state capitol for the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, the Democratic party's annual fund-raising event. We've never been to one before, but since our county Democratic Executive Committee picked me as their Democrat of the Year, well, we're excited to be going. More hobnobbing with politicians! Who doesn't want to do that 10 days before a major election?

President Obama spoke at the West Virginia J-J Dinner when he was still a Senator. Our friends who went predicted he would one day live in the White House. I don't think any of them thought it would be so soon, though. 

We're going to do a little party shopping on our way to Charleston. Yes, we're having an Election Night party and yes, I'm going to do it up right, with favors and Electoral College maps and food, oh my.

We're going to repeat a previous tradition of giving out M&Ms in pill bottles (my husband is a retired physician). In 2008 we created a new drug called Dematlast, which was supposed to relieve election-induced anxiety disorder. (Last election – actually convention – party posts are here and here.) This year we're dispensing Obamacillin.

We're also giving away little sponges which will be labeled as Fox News bricks – something to throw at the television that won't break the screen. I'm sure I would already have thrown more than a few of those if I watched Fox News. Which I don't. It seems like men watch it more than women, even Democratic men. They all say it's the mob-mentality strategy of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. I wonder, though. Fox News anchors are mostly blonde and pretty. It's election season: You decide! Heh.

If you have any ideas for funny, inexpensive, election-themed party favors, please speak up in the comments. They're going to be presented in brown paper lunch bags, sealed with an Obama sunrise sticker, so they can't be too big. Printables are great, but I'm running out of ideas. Everyone who leaves a suggestion will get their name tossed in the random-number generator hat, and I'll send one winner their very own goodie bag. It'll be like you were here with all of us on Election Night! Or not, since you won't get to eat the food.

Ready? GO!

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26 - Listening to

Listening to the food processor crushing dried jalapeƱos. Remind me
that I don't need to plant peppers next summer, 'kay? Heh.

The funniest thing I've seen on Facebook in a LONG TIME

I REALLY needed this laugh:

Not sure what this is all about? You haven't been to enough wedding receptions. Heh. Watch. Smile. DANCE!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25 - People

The governor's wife's entourage leaving Summers County
Democratic headquarters to tour downtown Hinton.I'm still rather
astonished to be hobnobbing with governors' wives. 

I. Just. Wish. It. Was. Over.

Really, I do. I want to wake up and see that it's November 7 and President Obama has been re-elected and Congress is back in the hands of the Democrats so we can really and truly get some things done.

Normally I don't think all three branches of our legislature should be in the same hands. It's all part of the checks-and-balances that keep one party from running the other one into the ground. I think the past four years have proven that one party can still run the other one into the ground, even when two branches are in one party's control.

The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives famously announced in 2010 that his goal was to make President Obama a one-term president. In order to do that, he had to make sure nothing got through Congress that would make the President look good or effective. It's infuriating and wrong-headed and bad for America.

In my not-so-humble opinion. Apologies if you disagree.

I'm 61. I've NEVER seen a Congress so determined to thwart a President's agenda. My Congressman, Nick Rahall, has served for 16 terms. He was in my county for an official event earlier this month and he told me he's never seen a Congress so unwilling to work for the good of the country.

That's pretty serious stuff.

The icing on the cake (mmmm, cake) was when Congress refused to pass the Veterans Jobs Bill. It's not hard to see that passing a bill that would help veterans also would help the President's approval rating. Do they not realize that letting that bill die also helped their DISapproval ratings?

The United States has had the same form of government for its entire history. No other country in the world can make that claim. Every other government has undergone a fundamental change at some time in its development. Are we so very special that we think it's not going to happen to us? Are we truly that arrogant?

For those of you who watch television, and especially for those of you who watch television in a swing state, you have my utter sympathy. I can barely get through an episode of Jeopardy without wanting to throw something at the screen. Just sifting through e-mail after e-mail, asking for money, reminding me to vote, bashing candidate after candidate after candidate, is maddening.

Not that some don't need bashing. But I think we get it.

Soon it really will all be over. I was in our Democratic headquarters yesterday when a local judge walked in and said he was more than a little concerned about the Democrats' prospects. I don't know where this came from, but I said, "Well, we've survived bad Republican presidents before, and I suppose we can do it again."

He HUGGED me! Said that was just what he needed to hear! Now I'm not giving up. I'll be making phone calls and urging people to vote early (and often, heh) and recommending they vote a straight ticket, so as not to leave anyone out. I still canNOT wrap my brain around the idea of any woman voting for Romney or Akin or the latest crazy-talker Mourdock.

When women vote, women win. (Are there any male readers here? If so, speak up! How do you feel about what the GOP is doing to the women you love?) We women have a slight majority IF we get to the polls.

So go, already. Vote. And may the best man win.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24 - Weather

The morning weather was grey and misty …

but it warmed up nicely by mid-afternoon. High today was in the 80s!

Workin' for a President

Today is a work-in-Democratic-headquarters day for me. I'll be making campaign buttons, a project our women's group has taken on again, since the Obama campaign hasn't spent any money in West Virginia.

(Not blaming him at all … we're famous for voting against our own interests, and West Virginia's five Electoral College votes will most certainly go for Romney. Maybe.)

The second weekend of Railroad Days is this Saturday and Sunday, and a couple people are brave enough to walk through the crowds wearing button-covered aprons, selling our creations.

There are some rude Republicans out there.

One offered to pee on the apron. Another told the apron-wearer to get back in the kitchen where she belonged. (She told him she'd go cook up an Obama victory.)

If I get all the buttons assembled, there are plenty of phone calls to make, a job I truly don't like doing but I will. Especially after reading this open letter from John Franklin Stephens. I saw the tweet in question and all I did was shake my head and call her disgusting. I'm ashamed that this woman represents my gender.

Aren't we better than this? I know some of you don't share my enthusiasm for President Obama, and I'm grateful you're still here. We can't always agree, but we can agree to disagree.

But who can agree with the likes of her? She gives both women and Republicans a bad name.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23 - The view from here

Looking through the zebra grass at the mountain to our west.

Short and sweet today

Thanks for your comments yesterday.

Diandra, who lives in Germany, nailed it when she said Republicans base their strategy on fear. I simply refuse to live in my life as a cautionary tale. To some, I may appear a bit reckless. And there are certainly times and situations where I've learned it's best to keep my pinko-Commie-liberal thoughts to myself.

Like yesterday, for example.

I was in a checkout line, sporting an Obama-Biden button on my jacket, when the young man ringing up my purchase said he had an Obama poster on his living room wall.

Silly me, I took that as an invitation to talk politics. Before I could respond, he said, "But I'm sure not voting for him this year. In fact I'm not voting for anyone."

Like this little lady, I also was
rocking my deer-in-the-headlights
look yesterday afternoon.
He went on to say (paraphrasing here), "Here's what I think we should do. Once a year, every American should cast a vote for the politician they'd like to have assassinated. Eventually the politicians would figure out that if they started doing a good job, no one would vote to get rid of them. And we'd sure get rid of a bunch of bad ones."

Whoa, I did NOT want to go there. I thanked him and left. Quickly. I will never patronize that establishment again. (I'm sure other stores sell denture adhesive.) In fact, I think I should probably report him to his manager. (Maybe he is the manager, scary thought.) Whatever happened to 'the customer is always right?'

Yeah, so I was a little rattled after that. But in general, I will stand up for my principles and ideals and I won't back down. (If I just planted a Tom Petty earworm in your pretty little head, well, you're welcome.)

When dealing with a crazy person, however, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22 - In your town

The courthouse spires in the county seat. And a lucky shot, because I
was headed out of town and almost forgot about today's prompt!

Closer to home (two miles from my house), this is the view going to the
Amish bakery. A lovely day for a drive in the country, and I'm enjoying
being one of the cadre of Amish drivers very much.

Two questions

If you are voting Republican, why are you doing so?

If you are a WOMAN and voting Republican, why are you doing so?

My basic premise, of course, is that women, especially, should think twice before choosing Romney/Ryan, and that men who love/like/admire/know women should want to make the best choice for women.

I'm not asking these questions to be snarky or mean-spirited. I'm not trying to be holier-than-thou or even to imply that Republicans don't care about women. I'm sure there are some who do. It's unfortunate that so few of them have taken a stand, allowing the many to drown out the voices of the few.

I really want to know why someone voting Republican in this critical election thinks we'll be better off with a – I can barely type this – President Romney. (Excuse me while I go wash up.)

Okay, that was a little snarky. But it's my blog and I'll write what I want to.

I can't trust someone who waffles in his convictions, saying one thing to one group at one time and completely changing his position to cater to another group at another time. THIS IS WHAT CANDIDATE ROMNEY HAS DONE. The evidence is everywhere. Pick an issue and he's been on both all sides of it.

President Obama hasn't done everything I wanted him to do. He's compromised too often, and he's worked too hard for bipartisan support which, as Mitch McConnell famously declared in 2010, he was never going to get. I wouldn't have President Obama's job for anything in the world, and I don't see why anyone would want it. (Fox News has been waging the one-term war since 2008.)

That said, President Obama seems to me to be genuine, authentic. He is who he is. (He couldn't even fake being alert and ready to rumble in the Denver debate!) I trust his vision. He married an amazing woman and is raising strong and amazing daughters. He's never promised the sun, moon and stars, as some had hoped he would.

He serves his country. He doesn't want to run it, and he knows that's not his job. His job is to work for me and for people like me.

Whether I'm the 47% or the 99%, I'm 100% in his corner.

In reply to Anna: Our war on coal here is most definitely anti-Obama. The signs read: Stop the war on COAL. FIRE OBAMA. Exports and domestic demand are down due to increased production in China and cleaner/cheaper natural gas extraction here in the U.S. There remain too many in our neck of the woods (yours and mine) who have drunk the Kool-Aid. President Obama is not their enemy. Apparently facts don't matter in regard to this issue. Or in many others, for that matter.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21 - Calm

The dismantled guest room means our company has departed.
It's way too calm around here without them.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20 - 4:00

The littlest of the littles, writing a message. She's busy as a little bee!

About coal

Winnie wondered how I felt about the candidates' debate regarding coal.

I don't think there's such a thing as "clean coal." On that, President Obama and I disagree.

I think ALL candidates who appear to support coal miners are really supporting coal company owners. It's the owners, after all, who make campaign contributions. It's the miners and their families who breathe the dirtiest air, drink the dirtiest water and suffer the most severe health problems due to the disregard of environmental protections.

And, of course, the disregard of safety protections results in loss of life and the complete shutdown of a mine.

The bottom line on coal is that its days are waning. Coal is not a renewable resource and it's getting more and more expensive to extract what's left. Coal mine owners know this and have publicly said it, as has former Senator Byrd (oh, how we miss him here in West Virginia) and current Senator Rockefeller.

There are far fewer coal mining jobs available with the advent of mechanized extraction. To blame the loss of jobs on the EPA or on President Obama is just wrong. Blame it on the owners. They want to make money. It is more profitable to buy a machine than to pay several miners' wages and benefits. Oh, and machines don't die if there's an accident. There's always the threat of that pesky little PR problem when human beings work underground.

Don't get me started on mountaintop removal. There's an SUV in our neighborhood sporting a sticker on the back window that says "This vehicle paid for by mountaintop removal mining." I find that unbelievably offensive.

A friend and WV native has said repeatedly that this state would have been better off had that first lump of coal never been found. His point is that we would have looked elsewhere for ways to attract people to the state. We're trying now, but it's too little, too late. Mining is entrenched in some families and they feel there are no other options. They're right, too, unless they move.

But how do you sell a home that's black with coal dust? And where do you go when jobs have always been scarce? The coal industry currently provides between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs. (At its peak, in the 1940s, that number was slightly more than 130,000.) Our state had 1,213,231 registered voters as of 2011. You do the math. Politicians who support coal mining are working awfully damned hard for very few votes.

The "War on Coal" is a PR win for the mining industry. Bottom line, though – it's a lie.

Okay, enough about that. Time for me to get busy making donut-hole acorns and slicing apples to dip in caramel sauce and filling a vat with spaghetti sauce. It's not often I get to cook for eight!

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19 - Letters

My initials in letterpress type block form. I used to work for a printer who
had boxes of these in the shop. He used them for kindling in his fireplace!
Glad I snagged these before he used all of them ...

Yesterday's rant took it out of me

Today, this morning, facing this screen, I've got nothing.

I predict that will change if I just keep on typing.

My husband's son and his family will be here tomorrow. My plan yesterday was to spend the day cleaning and toddler-proofing the house and spend the evening at the Democratic women's meeting. That way I could make some treats and grocery-shop today.

You know what they say about plans.

Tish Chafin poses with Miss Betty, one
of the hardest-working Democratic women
I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I got a call at 9:30 from a plugged-in Democratic woman who'd just learned that Tish Chafin, a candidate for WV Supreme Court Justice, was on her way to our county, and could I show up here and take her there and introduce her to them and …

Turns out I didn't have to be the shepherd, thank goodness. I'm not so great at that. But I suited up, showed up and took a lot of photos, some of which are on Facebook. If you tag and post a photo of a politician, it will be seen by a lot of people.

I got home in time to fix a simple supper ('cause you know that's really important for us ladies, having time to make dinner), then headed back to town for the evening meeting.

At which exactly seven women showed up.

I'm discouraged. Here we are, less than three weeks from a critical election, and I can't get a quorum to show up at a meeting. My husband didn't really help matters when he asked, upon my return, if I'd said or done anything to turn people away. That's been going through my mind ever since.

Have I? I'd like to think not. The last time we had good attendance was May. I blamed busy summer schedules on the lack of enthusiasm in June, July and August. September should have been back to normal, but it wasn't. And this month – with so little time left – well, I don't know what to think.

Thank goodness for the core group who do show up and get things done.

I announced we would not be meeting in November or December (traditionally we do not meet then), but that in January we would collect dues for 2013 and elect new officers. I'll let the new president set her own agenda. I'd like to be involved, but I sure don't want to be in charge.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

October 18 - Made you smile today

Our Appalachian sunrises always make me smile. 

Vote, damn it

The voter registration deadline has come and gone in West Virginia. If you didn't register, you can't vote, and don't come crying to me later when your government isn't doing what you want it to do.

If you are registered, don't throw that right away by staying home November 6. There are enough politicians and state legislatures out there already trying to take that right away. They don't need your help, they need you to oppose them.

Voting rights should be EXPANDED, not restricted, no matter your political persuasion. You think your vote doesn't count? There's really only one contest where it could be argued that it doesn't, and that's the Top Job, where the Supreme Court Electoral College determines the winner. (In the current political climate, I question what one wins.)

Every other candidate and issue on the ballot wins or loses because you made the effort to cast a ballot.

Yes, you.

As both of you know, I don't watch much television. I've learned that I'm a happier, saner, nicer person when I don't watch the news, and it's been a while since I've had a favorite, can't-miss program. HBO's The Newsroom would be the most recent qualifier. The West Wing is probably the last. I watch sports – that's my reality TV.  I watched the Democratic convention and I've tuned in to all of the debates.

During campaign season, it's not the programming itself that sends me into apoplectic fits, it's the commercials. Here in West Virginia it appears that the candidates for U.S. Senator and for governor of West Virginia are all running against President Obama.

All. Of. Them.

The Republicans are lumping the Democrats in with the President because, well, they're Democrats, while the Democrats are distancing themselves from him – "I'll stand up to anybody" is one of their oft-repeated and memorable lines – in the name of coal. (Here's a hint, guys: Your war on coal and "Obama's job-killing EPA" is misguided. Natural gas is coal's cleaner, cheaper competition. Nixon – yes, Nixon – started the EPA.)

It's easier than ever – at least for now – to cast a ballot. (It's much more difficult to register, however. Thank you, Patriot Act. And first-time voters may have to show some form of identification at the polls.) With early voting, you can't use the "I'm too busy the first Tuesday in November" excuse any longer. In my county, voting booths are set up in the courthouse beginning next Wednesday and continuing through the Saturday before Election Day.

So vote, damn it.

One more thing: I've heard more than a few people say they'll vote, all right, but they're not going to vote for [fill-in-the-office-of-your-choice – President, Senator or Governor].

I can't tell you what to do when it's just you and that screen. Actually I can, but you don't have to listen to or follow my advice. That's what secret ballots are all about. You can even tell me to my face that you're going to scratch the rooster, but when it comes right down to it, I'll never know whether you did or not.

But if you don't vote for [fill-in-the-office-of-your-choice] you might as well just vote for the other guy. If your candidate doesn't win, you have no way of influencing him/her once s/he takes the oath.

As recently as a month ago, I was one of those. I've been, um, enlightened. I'll hold my nose and vote a straight ticket. I then plan to bombard my Senator and Governor (because West Virginia is, in the end, a blue state until you start talking about the Electoral College) with letters and phone calls and e-mails, reminding them that I'm a constituent, too.

I don't work in a coal mine. I drink water from a well. My government needs to remember that voters like me outnumber coal miners by a wide margin. President Obama's Nixon's "job-killing EPA" is supposed to make the air safe to breathe and the water safe to drink. I think my representatives need to be reminded of that.

(And yes, I know they're not really standing up for miners. It's the coal company owners who fill their campaign coffers. But I'll play along until they take the oath of office.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October 17 - Fruit

An artsy-fartsy shot of the ripening Meyer lemons.

He's baaaaaack

No doubt about it, my President showed up for last night's second Presidential debate. I'm not sure who was standing in for him a couple weeks ago.

Watching it as part of a group was a lot of fun. I thought I'd miss having Facebook and Twitter in the palm of my hand, and I'll admit I did a teensy bit. But I didn't want to spend the evening with my head in a gadget. My screen time was spent watching the debate on television like everyone else, with occasional peeks at the phone. The internet connection wasn't great, and it was more frustrating than not to try to keep up. So I didn't.

Surely was a late night, though, much later than what I'm used to. My schedule is more like that of an infant or toddler – or an Amish. I'm up with the sun and the lights are out early. Like a toddler, I napped yesterday afternoon (instead of mowing). That was a helpful strategy for a long day.

Compared to the last campaign season, enthusiasm this year is way, way down. It's been disappointing to not have many members show up for Democratic women's club meetings. Four years ago our meetings were standing-room-only. This year we're lucky to have a quorum. People aren't exactly queuing up to volunteer to make phone calls. No one is knocking on doors except for local candidates.

But I think (hope?) last night's debate will change some minds and generate some excitement with three weeks to go before Election Day. There are campaign buttons to make and a headquarters office to staff and phone calls to make. We women do more than make cookies for events. We care, we work and WE VOTE.

Our next women's meeting is tomorrow night.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 16 - Something you wrote

Something I wrote – and have been writing – for several years now.
Thanks for reading, you guys are the best!

Nearly solved my e-mail problem permanently

You know, if you don't have your password written down or saved someplace, you could be cut off from e-mail for-freaking-ever!

Google notified me yesterday that someone from Peru tried to get into my account, and suggested I needed to change my password. So I did. But that messed up all the Google accounts on my phone and I had, oh, about five seconds of panic before I realized that not getting e-mail on my phone would really be a blessing.

Then, of course, I updated my password and all is well and connected in my little electronic universe.

Since I cleared out the inbox a couple days ago I've been spending 10 minutes twice a day keeping up with it. That's all it takes. I'm not sure why it's so hard to do that when I'm not at home. I'm taking a short trip in a couple weeks, and will try to schedule that itty bitty bit of screen time into my days away.

Hope to finish mowing today. I also have to plant some garlic before it's too late, and I have some pink lilies to put in the landscape bed. Unfortunately, the spot I'd hoped to put them in is still lush with pink marguerites; I hate pulling those out when they're still so pretty. If I don't, though, I'm not sure when I'll get the lilies in.

Moving on …

My husband and I have definitely decided we're having an election-night party. Election enthusiasm is down considerably from four years ago – not ours, but that of some of our friends. Winnie, I'll be thinking of you as you attend your friend's get-together. We do the geeky map thing, as well. Last time we even provided clipboards and markers. We're going to a debate party tonight. With just three weeks until Election Day, I'd better switch into GOTV – and party-planning – mode.

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15 - Dinnertime

My husband and I are having Chicken Tikka Masala.
Hershey is having … kibble. Again.

My energy ran out half a yard too soon

So did West Virginia's, apparently. But I'm not talking about football.

Wow, what a miserable sports weekend this was. WVU plummeted from 4th to 17th in the AP poll after being blown out by Texas Tech. Amazingly we came in 13th in the first BCS rankings. The Yankees made it to the ALCS by the skin of their teeth, but have dropped the first two games and lost their shortstop my baseball boyfriend, Derek Jeter, who fractured an ankle. OUCH!

My NFL boyfriend plays tonight. His old team (the Colts) managed three field goals yesterday in their loss to the Jets. And he's not doing so great in Denver so far.

No, when I say "yard" I'm talking about mowing the "lawn," a term I use loosely to describe the field in which we live. The weather yesterday was lovely – warm, sunny and dry. After I raked three huge bags of leaves for the compost bin I used the string trimmer around the herb and landscape beds. Then I got on the mower and cut about half the grass, thinking I would finish up today.

I mow nearly three acres, and unless I'm in tip-top form – which I haven't been lately – I like to split the job into two sessions. Also, it's been kind of dry, and the dust I was kicking up with the mower was annoying. And made me sneeze and itch and need a Benadryl.

So, of course, it's raining this morning. NO MOWING TODAY! Er, I mean, darn it, no mowing today.

I shall, therefore, turn my attention inward and work on tidying up the house. I'm mailing the costume to my granddaughter today, sans wings, because the wings made it look too "homemade with love," if you know what I mean. I called her daddy and hooray! They have a set of wings already.

The structure of the wings was accomplished by sewing long chenille stems onto each piece. You were supposed to do it with a zigzag stitch, but I thought that was a recipe for disaster so I took the invisible nylon thread and a needle and attempted to handsew it. Not quite a disaster, but certainly not lovely, either. Also … invisible thread is, um invisible. Very difficult for old-lady eyes to work with.

Anyhoo, with the sewing project done I can put the guest room back together and begin getting ready for company this weekend. Should be able to finish mowing in a day or two.

I. Just. Can't. Wait. Heh.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 14 - Makes you laugh

This was a difficult concept for me. I realized, thinking about it, that I don't
laugh much or often. I live in an isolated little bubble in the Middle of Nowhere,
I watch very little television and my screen time is filled with politics and more
politics. I'd love to live closer to our grandchildren (whose portraits are pictured
here), I'm sure I'd laugh more. Someday ... it's not possible at this time.

I love this blog

I'm not sure how I found "If Beth had a blog." Sometimes when I have a little time on my hands I poke around in others' blog feeds, and I think that's how I started reading Beth's blog. She's a Presbyterian minister in McDowell County, WV. She's spirited and spiritual. Her writing flows and her ideas are original and forward-thinking. I'm glad I found her. I found this post is exceptionally thought-provoking. What do you think?

If Beth had a blog: BethRant6 - Let's End the Generational Wars

Saturday, October 13, 2012

October 13 - Landscape

I cheated on this one, since I took the photo last fall.
This is the view to the west from our front door.

I don't need filters …

I just need to read my freakin' e-mail! Here's the funniest one I found when I plowed through them (finally!) yesterday.

And this is funny why, exactly? Because I telepathically invite the local deer to live in my woods and drink from my pond during hunting season. Hunters are supposed to request permission to hunt on private property, and that hasn't always happened. I've seen men dragging dead animals out of the woods a couple of times, and my husband saw a dead fawn near the pond several years ago. (Who would shoot a fawn!?!?!?!)

As a gardener, I know I shouldn't like deer. This year, especially, I should really, really, REALLY not like them, since they harvested the tomatoes before I had a chance to. But I think they're beautiful and graceful and still, now, 15+ years after I moved here, I run to the window when I catch a glimpse of them in the yard.

If I were gardening to feed myself for the year, I might have a different attitude. But I'm not a survivalist and, well, the deer were here first. And they're pretty!

Honestly? I'm more miffed at the birds for eating all the blackberries. Heh. I'm ready for them next year, though. I now have bird netting and a holographic owl that shines and flutters and is supposed to be freaky-scary to birds. We'll see. It looks pretty benign to me.

Fairy wings tomorrow. I worked at Democratic headquarters today and since no one else volunteered I will be there today, as well. Then football at 3:30, leftovers for dinner (the soup was delicious but it makes a lot) and, probably, more football. WVU is ranked 4th, so we're running out of teams to watch who are better than we are. Not being smug, it's just a fact. Heh.

Friday, October 12, 2012

October 12 - On the table

Happy birthday to him!

Plan B

My husband just woke up and said DO NOT FIX ANYTHING SPECIAL FOR DINNER.

He apparently thinks he's still 17. When he gets hungry at night he sometimes, um, overserves himself. Last night it was cheese. And peanut butter. And who knows what else is missing from the pantry.

At any rate, the menu suddenly got simpler, freeing up some time to make fairy wings. Oh, and I probably should pay some attention to the old inbox, which I didn't clean out the last time I wrote about it. It's worse now. Really, really worse:

That is all.

Must. Get. More. Creative.

I guess a close-up shot of canning rings taken with a smartphone isn't really very difficult to guess, is it? No matter, I loved the picture, and I love all the cool camera apps you can download nowadays. I still use my DSLR, but rarely, and only when I want to shoot from a distance. (Although some of the long shots I see on Instagram are pretty impressive.)

The Vice-Presidential debate has been analyzed, scrutinized, sliced and diced. Memes have been created and shared, polling continues and Martha Raddatz won, with Joe coming in a close second.

Best tweet of the night:

Fortune smiled on me yesterday, as I continued to make progress on my granddaughter's Halloween costume. When she asked if she could be Rosetta this year, the first thing I did was search for a pattern. Having last year's bride's dress and veil under my belt, I thought I could handle six yards of pink tulle.


Thankfully I gave myself more than one day to finish the project this year. I worked on it Monday and Tuesday, took Wednesday off for my cousin's funeral and sewed again most of yesterday (with time out for a walk because IT WAS SO GORGEOUS OUTSIDE). By the time the lights came up on the debate stage, I was sitting down with a threaded needle and a fancy pink satin dress, ready to hand-sew a length of marabou feathers to the neckline.

I still have to make a pair of fairy wings. Have I ever made fairy wings before? No, I have not. But how hard can it be? If you can read, you can sew make fairy wings, right? I don't need to ship the costume until Monday, so if I run out of time today, I still have the weekend to finish. Because …

I have to work at Democratic headquarters this afternoon and I'll be busy in the kitchen both before and after that gig. Today is my husband's  birthday – the last one of his 60s – and he never wants gifts. I gave him a book a month or so ago, and he said that would be his present. He's such an appreciative eater, though, that making him a special birthday meal is a pleasure. Here's the menu:

(a cheesy onion creation that is no longer on their menu)
Grilled Beef Burgers
Frozen Mixed Vegetables
Pecan Pie

I let the crockpot do most of the soup work, and I'll make the pie as soon as I hit the publish button. The rest isn't any more difficult to prepare than any other weeknight meal.

Despite not sticking with my running plan, I feel like this week has been very satisfying. I've done some good things, some kind things, some fun things and some necessary things.

I've also done some sewing. Heh.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 11 - Something close up

Pretty obvious to me what it is, since I took the photo. Can you guess?


Now there's a once-in-a-lifetime day of the year for ya. Kinda makes me want to write checks. (NOT! I love online bill payment. I still don't love paying bills, but technology makes it a heckuva lot less painful and time-consuming.) And while I would love to be able to compose an entire post about today's date, I just don't have that kind of creativity in me. If I find anything clever out there, I'll link back to it later.

So. Moving on.

The man we said good-bye to yesterday is the first of my first cousins to die. He was 65, definitely not old (and the older I get, the younger 65 looks) in body or mind or spirit, but managed to develop a pretty awful form of cancer a couple years ago.

Most of the funerals I've attended have been for those much older than I. One recent exception stands out, but I didn't know her well. She was the wife of one of my husband's high-school classmates. I've been to funerals for my husband's teachers, his mother's friends, my own parents – the previous generation.

Not my own.

I was the only one of this generation of cousins there, except for his sister, of course. We're all scattered and now that our parents are nearly all gone (one aunt still lives in Illinois) we haven't made much of an effort to get together. The last time I saw any of my cousins was at my dad's funeral.

We simply must stop meeting like this.

I heard over and over and over again what a good man my cousin was. He was an Ohio State Trooper and a Navy veteran and an artist and a father and a grandfather and, even, a great-grandfather. He adored his family, was proud of his service, had an outstanding career and earned the respect and admiration of all who knew him.

I felt good about going. I'm sure some of you (and my husband!) think it's kind of, um, pushing it to drive five hours, stay 90 minutes and drive five more hours, all in one day. I really didn't get tired, though, until I was half an hour from home. So it was okay. It was the right thing to do, and I wanted to go.

To follow up on yesterday's post, I passed one car – ONE – with an Obama bumper sticker. (Amazingly, an older Caucasian male was driving. I thought they were voting for Romney!?)

And if campaign signs did vote, President Obama would be a shoe-in in Ohio. Still, though, the signs weren't plastered everywhere as they were four years ago. I wonder about local ordinances, because I saw several of those walking sign workers Vickie mentioned in smaller towns along the way.

Oh, and early voting has already begun in Ohio. The parking lot at this polling location was packed, with a line of people out the door. There was an Obama-Biden sign placed as close to the site as is legally allowed and Romney supporters were nowhere to be found.

Hope. Change. Forward. Let's get this done.

October 10 - Emotion

Moody, broody skyscape, much like my emotions yesterday during
and after my cousin's funeral.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Four years ago …

roadsides and bumpers were littered with campaign signs of all varieties. Navy blue McCain-Palin (remember them?) stickers were prominent, but not any more so than the Obama sunrise. It wasn't at all unusual to get passed on the highway by someone who either waved in delight or flipped you off, depending on the stickers adorning his or her vehicle. (Trucks sported McCain stickers, while Obama was more popular with the Subaru/Volvo/Prius set.)

Now? Not so much.

I still have three signs to put out (yes, I'm one of those). Obama was the first one up, followed by Chafin (a woman running for Supreme Court) and Wheeler (the former sheriff who, after an eight-year run, sat out a term, per county regulations, and is running again). Who's left? Jeffry Pritt, running for House of Delegates; Nick Rahall, who will most certainly be re-elected to Congress, and … are you ready? … I have a Byrd for Senate sign, which I'm not going to put too close to the road.

Yesterday as I traveled in southern WV and southwest VA I saw lots of Romney signs, a few Obama-Biden placards, one Maloney for Governor and none for Manchin (D-Senate) or Tomblin (D-Governor). I think Republicans will vote for Manchin and Tomblin, but don't want to advertise the fact. I think Democrats will vote for them, too, in fewer numbers than previous elections, and I know the Dems don't want to do much to promote them. They're blue-dog Democrats – far too moderate for my taste, or for that of most Democrats I know.

I'm curious as to what I'll see in swing-state Ohio today. As Ohio (Virginia/Florida/Iowa/Colorado) goes, so goes the Presidency. My cousins are all Republicans. If challenged, I plan to laughingly announce I'm the token Democrat, representing their Uncle John (my dad) and our grandfather Benjamin Harrison Young, who posted a photograph of FDR on the outside of the rude little shack in which our parents all grew up. (Ironically, Benjamin Harrison was a Republican. My grandfather – who died before I was born – must have been something of a rebel in his time.)

Four years ago signs were plentiful, enthusiasm was high, opinions were loud and conversations were heated. This year? Not so much. West Virginians have voted seven times since the 2008 presidential elections; we're about voted out. It's been difficult to get folks excited.

Mr. Wheeler stopped by the other day to make sure he had my vote. During our conversation he said something that brought back a little of that hopey-changey feeling, and made me think people will still go to the polls. What were the words that left such a big impression?