Wednesday Vignette – pets, plants, and politics

Those are a few of my favorite things, and today I got a lot of all three. It’s of course Election Day, so I started my day (as usual) checking the news and political websites to see if anything essential had changed overnight. It hadn’t. I spent a lot of cuddling time with my sick kitty, and found courage enough to call a vet who specializes in home euthanizing. It will happen this weekend, after our youngest family member returns from coaching sixth graders at Outdoor School. I hope we can hold on that long – poor Manneman is not doing well, but hanging in there. It hurts my heart to see the deterioration of my steadfast gardening buddy.

I eventually went outside (without my cat) and started working on sorting out the mess in the side yard. It is my primary dumping ground for homeless plants. Today, many of them found homes, I’m happy to say, even if I didn’t yet get to build that planned table garden for random sun plants. The west side is where I try to cram in anything that needs sun. Thus the table garden – I learned with the fern tables that each table can hold 20-25 plants. I think you know where I’m going with this. Yup – cramscaping! I will likely keep tweaking, but that is my way of gardening – musical chairs with plants until happy. And then, the music starts again…

Side yard project

This is what that crazy mess looks like as of this afternoon.

And then there was the election. I guess I’m mostly happy about it, but still upset about the archaic voter regulations in so many states whose only purpose seems to be voter obstruction and targeting those who might threaten the GOP stronghold on those states. Will that EVER be dealt with? You’d think THAT would be something for State Supreme Courts everywhere to examine closer… Anyway, it’s more or less over, and it wasn’t a complete disaster, even if there were several instances that were disappointing. But, overall, I think the number of seats they won were amazing considering every gerrymandered map in every red state, was drawn to Democrats’ disadvantage back in 2010. I hope this was the crack in the wall… And I love that there were so many women that won – that’s huge! Stephen Colbert made me laugh when he so aptly quipped: “It means the Democrats have captured half of one of the three branches of government”. In other words, it could be worse. A lot worse.

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Wednesday Vignette – pain

After a week of news containing so much excruciating sorrow and raw pain it feels almost disrespectful to bring this up, but as of 4:30 today, this is what has been on my mind. Thinking that our beloved Manneman had a toothache, we took him to the vet today. He’s lost some weight over the past year, but then again, he’s an aging cat (probably about 15 if he truly was 2 when we adopted him) and might be forgiven for not having the appetite of his youth. Turns out, our furry ball of love has bone cancer. We’re aghast – the prognosis is not good. Which kind of bone cancer is impossible to know without a biopsy, but here I’m starting to balk. Do I really want to know? The outcome won’t change, so do we really want to put him through all that?


What we’d like to know is how much pain he is in, but of course neither he, nor the vet can really tell us. While silently scoffing at myself for asking, I asked the stupid question if she could tell us how long he’d have left. Stupid, because who can give a definite answer to something like that? She kindly humored me, and estimated 6-8 weeks.

My mother, whose father was a vet, and who spent many years working as a nurse, wisely says that we often treat our pets better than our humans, in that we allow them to die when they need to, preserving at least some shred of their dignity. I hope their humane approach has rubbed off on us. We will keep Manneman as comfortable as we can, for as long as we can. But, I also hope we will find the strength to not selfishly string him along when his suffering becomes too great. But when that is… well, who knows.

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Wednesday Vignette – yellow

Outside, on my window, I hear rain drops. I wonder if that means we’re done for this year… weather-wise, I mean. We’ve had a phenomenal October so far, and are almost at the end of it. Crisp, deep blue skies for the explosion of colorfully turning foliage to silhouette spectacularly against, and the kind of exhilarating air clarity we haven’t felt or smelled for months. And, so many living things have turned some kind of yellow. Or brown. (Which, I guess, technically IS yellow, only at the lower end of the value scale.)

Our mornings have been wrapped in deep, dense fog – the kind of fog that makes you feel like you’re living in a dream world, where softness abounds and contours fade. Only the sound of gravel crunching underneath your feet, is distinct enough to snap your sleepy morning mind back into reality. The fog makes discerning shapes difficult, but they emerge stronger as you move closer. The colors too, brighten. But still, as yellows go, they are subtle and sweet, as the fading Asparagus foliage you see here.


The harsh, all-consuming glare of high summer has faded, and some garden fare, like Rudbeckia angustifolia command center stage. It was even more foggy when I snapped the photo below, but you wouldn’t know it… It could have stayed foggy all day long for all I care – this intense, earthbound sunshine burned through the murkiness faster than the actual sun did. Why some folks don’t like yellow in their gardens,  I never quite understood. These Helianthemums, positioned against the purple berries of a Callicarpa and flanked by that bright green, dramatic Cardoon, put some bounce in my step. Sadly, my own garden is far too shady for these mid-autumn marvels. Today’s shots are from the gardens at Joy Creek, where, as you can imagine, I enjoy them tremendously. What makes you happy this time of year?



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Wednesday Vignette – planes, trains, and automobiles

My best beloved and I took an impromptu trip outside of the city this past weekend. Got in the car on Sunday morning, and said “Where to?” We ended up heading east – out to the Gorge. It was one of those leisurely excursions where you take the time to explore – follow little roads just to see where they lead. The magnificent Columbia River Gorge is an eyeful at almost any time, but especially so on a crisp autumn day, when the sky is so blue it almost hurts, and leaves all around are turning all kinds of colors. I lazily turned the camera every which way, during our exploration.

As anyone who has experienced it can attest – the scale of the enormous Gorge has the capability to make you feel appropriately dwarfed. It looks big, it feels big, and it IS big. But everywhere we looked, there were little humans just like us, crawling about in their own vessels of choice. Barreling through high up above, floating on the water, trudging on along the tracks, and in shiny metal cans called cars. Our collective bustle seemed so at odds with the ancient serene enormity of the landscape itself. It was an interesting contrast to observe.



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Wednesday Vignette – order


A bee hive is a functional society where all members adhere to the same, set rules. One would think achieving this kind of calm complicity, would be a huge accomplishment for any specie. If we ever wanted to, (which I doubt) I think we could learn a lot from bees. I bet the amount of chaos, deception, deliberation, misinterpretation, strife, violence, and smoke and mirrors in their society, is negligible compared to ours. How else could it be when everyone just falls in line without protest…? I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is because theirs is a matriarchy and ours is not, but it’s a fun idea to play with, all the same. After the couple of mad weeks we’ve just endured, it’s kind of nice to rest one’s eyes on a house in relative order. Even if their formula will never fully translate to us.

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Wednesday Vignette – a long way down

What a week, huh? A bit of an emotional rollercoaster, following along with the spin of the various news cycles. I don’t know of many suspense thrillers that can compete with the throes of the past few days, in our very own reality show. As I was looking for an image that would capture the tension of that breathless, tethering limbo of disbelief we’re in, I came across this shot from my last trip to Sweden. My mom, my nephew, his dog, and I were walking through the oak strewn meadows outside the town where I grew up, when we came upon this tree, seemingly arrested in mid-fall. By the looks of it, it really shouldn’t be able to keep itself upright – and yet it does. It’s a tall tree. The higher they are, the farther they fall. Or not.  I guess time will tell…


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Wednesday Vignette – shadow theatre

Those of you who have been with me for a while know that sometimes the DC shenanigans drive me bonkers. This is me apologizing ahead of time for yet another rant, I had hoped to keep this little outlet of mine to more neutral matters, but… instead I can’t seem to avert my eyes from this very real Noh drama playing out in Washington.

Anyone who paid ANY attention to the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings of Kavanaugh would probably agree that it was a complete sham. The information released for the Judicial Committee to pre-read was carefully cherrypicked beforehand, so that nothing too controversial would be released. The answers coming out of the nominee’s mouth were polished, shallow, and non-committal. Essentially as slick of an evasion of an answer as anyone could have hoped for. Requests for more background documentation were consistently and unbendingly stonewalled.

Gunnera leaf - closeup

This Gunnera leaf is a beautiful scrim, casting a soothing glow over the world, with only the occasional tear in its fabric, allowing a glimpse of the machinations behind it.

Then, there was the allegation of sexual misconduct. And, then there was another one. No surprise there, but neither – by the administration – was deemed worthy of the customary FBI investigation. Media, of course ran with it – as they should. But, this line of argument, at this point, feels like a rabbit hole. Disturbing as those allegations are, focusing entirely on those, is dangerous and myopic. I would caution against betting everything on tomorrow’s misconduct hearing. As this Opinion by the nominee’s old friend David Brock indicates, there is A LOT more at stake here – this nomination has been in the works for decades. Yet hardly anybody is talking about that – which is why I want to repost it here. Apologies again for yet another political post – but this one has SEVERE repercussions for future generations. I’ve been obsession over it for weeks, so yet again, my dear readers, you are the recipients of my angst. If this moves you in any way, my hope is that you tell everyone you know. At this point, to say “Call your Senators” feels almost pointless, as this slow- moving freight train of determined, nepotist, conservative reactionaries  will almost inevitably crush yet another essential part of this democracy. I’m bracing for what tomorrow brings – while most of us are focusing on other things…

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