And They Start To Bloom


The tallest sunflower in our garden is over 10 feet high, and is now starting to bloom.  All the others are getting closer to following the leader, and it should be quite a display once they too explode with color. 

Will be back blogging on August 1st. 

A Touch Of Provence


Have you ever noticed that no matter how many people are in your home, regardless of the occasion, they all congregate in the kitchen?  It was that way in my home as a kid, (still is) and I want that same feel in our new home.  James had the same experiences while growing up at his home in Maine. He is the first to always make sure that the teapot is on, and food is offered to our guests.  I think our new kitchen will be the place for lots of warm memories.   The kitchen is the brightest in color, because as with any home this is where family and friends gather for food and laughter.  While one door is blue in the kitchen, the other door leading to the hallway is red. 

Both of us have said over that past few days that we do not want be a painter or a professional mover when we grow up.   I have done more of these things this summer than I ever planned to do.  Just think of how much painters tape was involved in making these three colors happen….I am soooo done with painting.  To be fair James has held the brush more often than I have for the detail painting.

There is only some more “Apple A Day” red to be completed on the trim in the kitchen.  Pictured on the walls there is “Yukon Gold” yellow, and “Chinese Porcelain” blue which gives that look that says “WELCOME”!   But after the trim is completed the paint brushes will be banished from our sight.  Seven painted rooms in six weeks!  The summer project is coming to a close and the move has started.  By mid-August it will all be completed.  Thankfully we have time to do the move in segments, instead of a one day orgy of madness.

Smoking In Public, Peeing In Pools

It is all the same.

Though the Wisconsin Tavern League will disagree with a smoking ban in the state.  But they always are on the other side of these issues.

Late Sunday we drove to Monona to have late night food.  A greasy burger and fries were on my mind.  But when we entered the Denny’s restaurant I was greeted with the stench of smokers with their cancer sticks.  Just outside of Madison, this eating-place actually still thought they could place both smokers and nonsmokers under the same roof and no one would notice.  Some still have a quaint sense of humor about how smoke travels in an enclosed place.

I write this in light of the enlightened approach that Illinois took this week in regards to the health of their citizens.  The elected officials made it clear.

Places long associated with smoker-friendly policies — casinos, bars and private clubs such as VFWs and American Legions — all will be smoke-free.Even outside spaces aren’t a free-for-all. The law requires that smokers remain 15 feet away from the doors and windows of a public place.Some Illinois hospitals have banned smoking anywhere on hospital property, and a handful of suburban towns also limit smoking on park district property.

Statewide smoking bans are in place all over the nation, and Wisconsin should get with the program of looking out for the health of the people.  Living in Madison I already know and appreciate the benefits of our sensible no smoking policy that promotes our health over the interests and profits of the tobacco industry. 

The parochial views by the Wisconsin Tavern League, which often runs counter to common sense, should be rejected by the legislature.  The League sees doom and gloom every time a restriction is proposed on a bar, and so one needs to keep their track record in mind when thinking about the merits of a statewide ban.  There now is a bill in State Senate committee that would address our needs.  A bill of that type will become law sooner or later here.  We all know that.  But think how nice it would be to enjoy it now.

Let us contact a thinking member of the Wisconsin Legislature and tell them to get moving on the measure.

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John Edwards And The Poor

I was struck by the correctness of an article in The Economist concerning the policy goals of John Edwards as he campaigns for the White House.  While the magazine prides itself on their writing, we as readers know the publication to be objective.  Which is why these paragraphs matter.  These  goals that John fights for are the hopes of the American people.

On economics, too, the Edwards brand of populism is hard to pigeonhole. With roots in the textile mills and strong links to the unions, he is regarded as the most protectionist of the Democratic front-runners—though the margins are narrowing fast as Hillary Clinton stages a retreat from her husband’s embrace of free trade.

He offers plenty of standard populist cant: lots of talk about “fairness”; rants against oil firms for price gouging and drug companies for rocketing health costs; and—this year’s favourite villain—anger at mortgage lenders for ripping off poor home-owners. (He calls it the “wild west of the credit industry, where…abusive and predatory lenders are robbing families blind.”) A recent speech decried an economy that rewarded “wealth not work”, a tax system that favoured the rich and a government that served only special interests. Yet for all that Mr Edwards is less a redistributionist firebrand than a big-government do-gooder. He is intent on helping the poor more than soaking the rich; his inspiration is Robert Kennedy, not Huey Long.

The Edwards campaign openly evokes RFK‘s 1968 presidential bid, which combined vocal opposition to an unpopular war with a telegenic focus on alleviating poverty. Mr Edwards launched his candidacy outside a wrecked house in New Orleans’s ninth ward. This week he spent three days on an anti-poverty tour, one that finished, not uncoincidentally, in Prestonburg, Kentucky, where Kennedy ended his own poverty tour 40 years ago.

Look beyond the unsubtle imagery, however, and Mr Edwards’s anti-poverty plan is an intriguing mix. His goals are bold—to cut America’s poverty rate of 12.6% by a third within a decade—but the means are mainstream. His policy arsenal includes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, a kind of negative income tax that tops up the earnings of poorer Americans; giving poor people “work bonds” to boost their saving; and providing 1m housing vouchers to help poor families move to better neighbourhoods. Policy wonks argue about whether these ideas, particularly housing vouchers, will work, but they could all have come from a centrist Democratic think-tank.

The combination of bold goals and mainstream means is evident in two other Edwards plans: health care and energy reform. And it is why his campaign, regardless of its electoral fortunes, is shaping the Democratic race. Unable to dismiss his proposals as crazy radicalism, the other candidates have to be both bolder and more detailed than they would like.

Consider health. Mr Edwards released his ideas for universal insurance in February, almost two years before election day. He steered clear of the approach favoured by the party’s left—a single-payer system, like Canada’s or Britain’s. Instead his plan has ingredients that were introduced in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, now a Republican presidential candidate: an overhaul of insurance markets, subsidies to help poorer people pay their premiums, taxes on firms that do not provide health-care coverage for their workers, and a requirement that everyone should buy health insurance.

His proposal does nod to the left: a government health scheme, akin to Medicare, would compete with private insurers, potentially opening the door to a single-payer system if everyone chose to join the public scheme. But it does not seem threateningly radical. As a result, it has become the standard against which other Democratic candidates are judged. Mr Obama, who recently released a paler version of the Edwards ideas, was criticised for not requiring people to buy health insurance.

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Tammy Faye, With Pain, Gives A Lesson On Living Life

Like millions of Americans on Wednesday night I was shocked to see Tammy Faye on “Larry King Live”.  The several minute segment was a promotion of sorts for the longer taped interview that will be seen on CNN tonight.  The toll from her cancer set both James and me back in the sofa.  Down to 65 pounds the lady is just skin and bones and looked, needless to say, dreadful.  The pain of her ordeal and struggle over the past many months was etched on her face.

I was one of her loud critics when the PTL Club was in the news in the 1980’s with tales of swindling.  While I still have problems with televangelists in general, I have formed a deep respect for the way Tammy Faye has conducted herself in the past several years.  She righted her own personal life after the downfall of a television empire that also ended Jim Bakker’s role on the big stage.  When her cancer news became a public story several years ago I again started watching this lady who is sassy, fragile, bright, and funny, and found her story compelling to follow.  James would often lean into the living room and ask why I was watching yet another  news segment on Tammy Faye.  But like so many others in the nation I was drawn to her ability to live life her way, and not care if others laughed or not.  I think we all are a bit jealous that we cannot have that same care-free way of really living life that Tammy Faye possessed.

She liked her makeup applied her way, and if her accessories were a bit gaudy, so be it as it made her happy.  She laughed at things others might not, and said things others might have kept to themselves.  She was her own person, and lived life her way.  And even if some do not like her, they must admit the way she lived was the only way to really do it.  Complete and full on one’s own terms. 

That is not a bad lesson to give to others.  I think she made mistakes in her past and paid the price.  I also think she presented to others a life lesson these past years that made up for the parts of her life that are long behind her.

She has shown amazing fortitude and peace with a process that will claim us all.  Death is never pretty, and too often it gets hidden because it unnerves us.  But by going on “Larry King Live” she proved a few things.  First that her faith in God is real and whatever others (including myself) may have thought about her years ago, her foundations are solid.  I firmly believe that no one without God could have done an interview on camera in her condition.  The emotional toll on top of the physical pain would make it impossible.  I just believe that.

The second thing the interview shows is that life is not over even when we are very sick.  By putting on her makeup and looking, as best she could, like the old Tammy Faye we all knew, she gave notice to other sick people that any illness does not win until the very last breath.  Everything up to that moment is about living.  Perhaps with struggle and difficulty, but nonetheless living.  Had she not done the interview, or put on her makeup and stayed closeted, the cancer would have won even before the actual end. 

Not a bad lesson for us all to learn.

With respect and admiration I wish the best for Tammy Faye.  And I suspect most of the nation does too.

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There Is An Energetic Anger In America Tonight

Yesterday at lunch a young waiter asked if there was anything else he could get us.  I responded that a new president would be nice.  Without missing a beat he said that in roughly 450 days I would have one.  He then shared his disgust with President Bush.  He warmed to the topic and was quite impressive.  The young man was off by only about 25 days, but the energy he demonstrated so quickly about the removal of President Bush is the same all over the country.  There is a strong desire for a change in policy, change in direction, and change in leadership.  The fact that Democratic presidential candidates are raising more campaign cash than Republicans says a great deal.  Even Paul Harvey had to report today on his mid-day broadcast that the numbers from the last campaign reporting period are lopsided.  I think the American people are already ‘voting’ in their hearts and minds.  Things must change.

Meanwhile in the United States Senate……..

At dinner tables tonight the talk is not of procedures used in the Senate to stall the Iraq War amendments.  Instead it is of the Republicans and the White House that have again stymied the will of the American public to end this senseless war.  There is no support for this war except from the political hacks that profit from rehashing the same old trite lines that now fail to inspire anyone.  The public is no longer listening to the rhetoric.  They have moved on in their thinking, and though they have not settled on which one candidate they want elected in 2008, they do know what they are opposed to. 

What happened in the Senate today is symptomatic of what angers the public.   When pure politics blocks the will of the public the party that created the roadblock should be aware of the pitfalls.  The folks across the country that feel let down by the Senate action today may not call their elected official, or write a letter to the editor to complain.  But deeper and longer term anger is boiling in America. 

Election Day 2008 will be when the national roadblocks will be dealt with.

Countdown to the Ames Straw Poll: 24 days
Countdown to Iowa: 190 days
Countdown to Tsunami Tuesday: 201 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 475 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 552 days

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Sanctity of Marriage By Senator Vitter….No Joke!

This is priceless!  Nothing else needs to be added.  Priceless!

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Senator Vitter 2004 Campaign Ads

The warm family touch of these campaign spots from Republican Senator David Vitter are interesting to watch now since we know of his affection for prostitutes.  Warm, fuzzy images of a family life that was all fake.  I wonder how the conservative voters in Louisiana feel?

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