Dinosaurs Should Be Extinct

31 05 2017

Okay, I am just going to say it.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both need to go away. This rehash of what could’ve/should’ve/might’ve/holy-crap-did happen is not just impotent; it’s destructive.

Oh, and while they’re leaving, they should take Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and all the others who have spent most of their golden years in DC! No one should celebrate their 50th and 60th and 70th and 80th birthdays as an elected official. Seriously.

As old as I am, I realize that, while age can bring wisdom,  it’s not guaranteed. I also realize that one doesn’t have to have passed a certain age to be wise. I am pretty sure there are lots of people who would do terrific work in public office – people who would bring fresh perspective, innovation, and real passion to the challenges our country faces – people who would not look and sound like the same tired rerun of a bad senior center sitcom – but until we quit electing the overstayed-their-welcome-and-usefulness politicians we keep electing, we will very surely squelch any possibility of a better idea.

I am a cranky old lady, but I fully expect to live for at least a dozen more presidential elections, so can we please – both sides of the political spectrum and all those of us squeezed in the middle by our way-out-at-the-edges fellows – move forward, instead of looking back.  Our current DC narrative is, and has been for a while, a really awful story filled with irredeemable characters; why are we intent on re-telling it, trying to find value or meaning in such a worn-out story?

Please, let’s not delay one more day in trying to find and support the next generation of leaders for our country.  The ones we have seen and heard for the last many years are not offering any new solutions and they sure have not solved much for us with the old thinking.

And now, here are two photographs that tie in, tangentially, to this tirade, but one’s cute and the other’s pretty.

Escape is possible. Just keep swimming until those legs get strong enough and then, my little Toad-pole, you’ll be free from the swamp – er – backyard pond.

Columbine, in memory of all the beauty we lose to violence and with hope that we’ll find better answers.

Well, I Hope THEY’RE Happy!

24 05 2017

Those people who planted that zoysia grass . . . I hope they’re happy now . . . with their ten months of brown lawn . . . They are getting what they deserve.

I am a suburban landscape geek, so I research plants, their positives AND negatives, before I bring them into my yard.  I would never ever plant zoyzia grass here in Zone-something-less-than-9; that stuff is only good for warmer climates. Unfortunately, some of my neighbors are definitely not plant geeks and are apparently quite susceptible to late-night infomercials touting the “benefits” of this noxious invasive thug of a diva grass and they did plant it.

They are now in deep mourning over the money they wasted to plant a lawn that looks dead for all but five or six weeks a year, but this is not the time for schadenfreude. My neighbors are not the only ones who suffer.  Did I mention zoysia’s invasive?  The damn stuff is now moving into my stays-green unless snow-covered climate-appropriate grass and muscling it out.

Their error is costing me money.

In the last few weeks, I’ve come to see  that Trump’s like zoyzia grass . . . although someone else invited him, he’s still ruining my party.  The fact that his date looks miserable does not ameliorate my suffering one bit!

What to do?

I can’t remove my neighbor’s lawn, but I can vigilantly uproot the bits of ugliness that try to seep into mine.

I can plant more flowers to act as barriers to the bad stuff and increase the beauty of my yard.

This will help me and my neighbors who can also enjoy my lovely landscape – and I will get so much more out of sharing the good than if I just stood on my property line yelling obscenities at them for planting that damned zoysia grass.

As Candide said, “We must cultivate our garden.”

Here.  I grew these for us.

No Obligation Intended

17 05 2017

This week, I have been involved in trying to extricate someone from some “unintended” contractual obligations – you know, that thing that happens when someone thinks “we don’t need to run this by a lawyer” and then, when it becomes obvious that they were WRONG, I am pestering my good-natured husband for free legal advice to help bail out a friend or organization dear to my heart .

Seems appropriate to more deeply consider contractual obligations – like self-imposed Wednesday blog posts – tonight.   After a fourteen-hour day of meetings and record-keeping as a volunteer board member of a non-profit, helping my computer-illiterate husband prepare photo exhibits for court,  and dealing with an eccentric and demanding diva guinea pig*, I am running on fumes.

But I am contractually obligated – to myself – to post a blog every Wednesday.

Husband reminded me, in the hopes of lightening my mood, of the dramatically awful works released by some pretty famous musicians, based upon their unhappiness with being contractually obligated to create another album by a certain due date (e.g. Prince, Neil Young, Van Morrison, etc.), so, with that fair warning, here I am.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just do it. Maybe if I close my eyes and just start to type, something will come.


Ok, that didn’t work, but it’s at least as good as Here Comes Dumb George. http://nowiknow.com/van-morrison-and-the-thirty-one-songs-about-nothing-but-a-bad-contract/

Don’t feel obligated, but you’re invited back next Wednesday. I’ll be here.

* Eccentric and Demanding Diva Guinea Pig.


I Should Have Known!

10 05 2017

They say, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

Okay, I Googled something I should have just left unknown.  Yeah, I think I was better off not knowing that a cubic yard of mulch weighs between 400 and 800 lbs.  Knowing I had at least two tons of the stuff in my driveway, waiting for me to move every one of those ten yards to my many flower and shrub beds was daunting.






They had a point.



They also say, “Pace yourself.” 

I can’t just let that mountain sit in my driveway, taunting me, encouraging the neighbors to think I am too lazy (or too old) to git’er done.  So, while I will allow that They might have a point with that first adage, that second one did not resonate with me.


They are all talk and no action!

In the last three days, I shoveled, wheel-barrowed, and spread about ninety percent of the mulch monster.  I was sure I could finish the job today . . . right up until the moment I was sure I wasn’t.  With just a few more laps to go, I couldn’t reach the finish line. I was beaten.

In the shower – leaning on the wall for support – I berated myself for being a quitter.  At least I was smart enough (using that phrase loosely) to put down the shovel before I did major injury.  I was dumb enough, though, to feel defeated because  I MOVED OVER A TON AND A HALF OF MULCH BY MYSELF IN JUST THREE DAYS!

What do I have to feel defeated about? I know people half my age who can’t carry two bags of groceries into the house.  I know lots of folks whose bodies are full of replacement parts; I’m still all original – beat up, but in working order.  I should feel grateful for my good health, even if my brain is a little iffy!

They also say, “Be kind to yourself.”

We should listen!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to enjoy half a bottle of ibuprofen and try to find the energy to climb the stairs to bed.


Dirty Little (Fashion) Secrets

3 05 2017

We’ve all seen the stories*  about Nordstrom’s newest trendy (?) clothing offering:

Heavily distressed” jeans, covered in fake caked-on mud at the knees, the pockets, the back pockets

Yep, for just $425, you can get yourself a pair of PRE-DIRTIED BLUE JEANS and they don’t even use real dirt! 

Realizing that, if there is a market for such mass-produced dreck, there most surely is a more sophisticated and demanding market for artisan-made pre-dirtied dungarees and I just happen to have a few pairs of just such trousers!

Just think how “I deserve this Cosmo” you’ll look wearing a pair of these to your favorite cocktail hour.

These glorious togs are the result of years of careless gardening, wanton studio painting, and various other devil-may-care pursuits that involve spilling, ripping, and/or burning the crap out of something.  Given the amount of time it took to create these unique wearable works of art and considering Nordstrom’s is charging just short of $500 for their fakey-fake-fake-fakes, I figure mine are surely worth somewhere in the neighborhood of a new Tesla.

I mean, these are one-of-a-kind.

They stand up to washing – hell, they stand up AFTER washing. 

They also match every skin tone, shirt color, and stain known to womankind.

Nothing says “I am not an office slave” like these be-dirted beauties!


But wait, there’s more!  I mean, you can’t just toss on a pair of Guccis or Ferragamos  with these fantastic pants, can you?

Don’t you love these perfectly stained granny sneaks featuring the colors of grass, mulch, and potting mix.

You won’t find a more carefully worn (out) pair of slip-ons than these beauties. BONUS: in just a few wearings, these are sure to convert to peep-toes!

Folks, now that I think about it, these amazing original items just mean too much to moi, the artist, to sell at any price.  I’ve put too much of myself into them – including probably more than a few drops of my own blood after a bout with a rose bush or metal shears.  Sorry.  You’ll just have to settle for the mass-produced fake-dirt kind.

Or will you???

 Maybe I will offer a class – yeah, that’s it . . .  or a DIY kit . . .

Nah. Respect the process. This kind of greatness comes only with hard work and time – and  a massive amount of chutzpah.


* In case you live under a (leather-wrapped) rock, here’s a link to one account:


P.S.  I truly love my ratty jeans and barely-qualify-as-shoes. They represent hours of hard work that is also great fun. They look like rags, but, to me, they are my princess tiara – or suit of armor – take your pick.

Ghandi’s Grandson and Graduation

26 04 2017

Today, I heard Scott LaMar interview Arun Ghandi, grandson of Mohandes Ghandi, on my local NPR station, WITF*. The whole interview was interesting, but the closing was a forehead smacker for me. 

 Ghandi, the younger, was asked about Ghandi’s  Seven Blunders of the World, a list that “grew from Ghandi’s search for the roots of violence:”**

Wealth without Work

Pleasure without Conscience

Knowledge without Character

Commerce without Morality

Science without Humanity

Worship without Sacrifice

Politics without Principle

 It’s still a mighty good list.

 And then Arun Ghandi offered his own Eighth Blunder:

Rights without Responsibilities

 With those words, something came screaming out of my memory bank – something I said in 1972.

 Dr. Ghandi had, with a very small twist, just articulated the theme of my high school commencement speech, delivered to about a hundred fellow students and their families in my tiny hometown.   I was just bold enough and innocent enough to stand up in front of that group and argue that freedom and responsibility do not survive without each other. I cautioned that unless we accepted and fulfilled the responsibilities accompanying such wonderful freedoms, we would surely lose them. 

Actual Portion of Paula’s 1972 Boiling Springs High School Graduation Speech – Really!

 The list of things I’ve gotten wrong since that day 45 years ago is too long to begin to write, but it looks like I got this one right. We can’t take goodness for granted. I  agree with Dr. Ghandi that we should perhaps have (at least a Personal) Bill of Responsibilities to accompany our precious Bill of Rights.





 Feel free!

Testing, Testing

19 04 2017

This week, as part of my duties as vice president of standards for the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, I chaired a Master Artisan jury session – a formidable event for jurors and candidates alike. (For details on this, visit https://www.pacrafts.org/our-guild/master-status)  It brought back memories of my experience on the applicant side of the equation.

How long had it been since I looked at the work that earned me Master status? How would those pieces look to me now, after all those years? I’ll admit, I was a little more than nervous, but I hung the works together and stepped back.

Damn. While they are not representative of my current work, they are part of me. They still speak to that place I was when I created them.

I am humbled and honored to chair this year’s Master Artisan jury sessions.  Remembering what it feels like to take the test helps make better teachers. I will not forget.