Thursday, September 20, 2012


You must admit I don’t rant much so here is my Joke for the Day.

TDAmeritrade will mail me an Amazon gift card worth $2,000 when I deposit or transfer $1,000,000 to an account. If my accountant, whose desk is next to mine in our second bedroom, ever stops laughing long enough to remember our password, I’ll be rich!

I know. I’ll pledge $50,000 to Obama’s election campaign and the Feds will send me a million from the stimulus package. Sure they will. And Romney insists that he feels my pain like a chiropractor. Sure he does.

In Washington we have a Senator, who has been flying first class to his office in DC, and an Attorney General who upped his own salary, duking it out for Governor. They both protest concern for small business. Methinks they doth protest too much. I’d rather they lost my mailing address and phone number.

Profit is a dirty word to politicians whatever their party affiliation. There must be a magnetic quality to profit that attracts taxation like the Dirty/Clean sign clings to my dishwasher.  Ah, there’s the proof that I need to give more to WA State and DC! I can afford a dishwasher. Take the President out golfing.

Do they suppose I take on risk and work 12 hours a day because I’m stupid? Let me rephrase that.

The label “wealthy” only gets pasted on people who make more money than you and I do. Suppose you and I find an extra, legitimate $50,000 in our checking account. As if we all will happily give the extra money to the Feds to waste on surly NJ Postal workers and judicial junkets to Hawaii. Okay, your taxation rate is only fourteen percent. Is that you screaming I hear? But it was profit, sweetie. Think of the people in Chicago who can’t buy vegetables because you got the money. What do you mean you need a new car, a new roof on your house, dinner in a restaurant that doesn’t brag about how often they change their French fry oil? You have a car, house, credit card; ergo you are stinking rich. You don’t deserve to spend, save or donate to the Shriners money you earned, right?

Finally we are discussing the heart of this presidential and guvernorubial election. What is fair when it involves you giving up your money? Is redistribution of your wealth what this country is all about? And is wealth defined by a $40,000 income, $250,000 or do I remain “middle class” until my fictitious million appears with all its glorious zeros?

I don’t expect help from anyone of any political persuasion with my business which may turn a profit in spite of the government. But I feel better for ranting, just this once.

P.S. I made up the word, guvernorubial, so don’t try it out on your friends. It’s an inclusive word with a, e, i, o and a u for each of us. I could have said gubernatorial which also is vowel inclusive, but there must be some freedom left in this country, and it’s my blog.


Thursday, September 13, 2012


Thoreau’s mantra was “live simply” although his explanation was wordy, clause after clause piling up against the eventual period. Walden Pond was his experimental lab for two years, after which he struggled against bankruptcy. In his century Thoreau was a curiosity. Within the context of our contemporary culture simplicity is possible but not achievable without much thought.  Listening to the sound of a different drummer is a continual challenge and a learning experience. Eventually age accomplishes simplicity for us.

…”I was present at the auction of a deacon’s effects, for his life had not been ineffectual:

     ‘The evil that men do lives after them.’

"As usual, a great proportion was trumpery which had begun to accumulate in his father’s day. Among the rest was a dried tapeworm. And now, after lying half a century in his garret and other dust holes, these things were not burned; instead of a bonfire, or purifying destruction of them, there was an auction, or increasing of them. The neighbors eagerly collected to view them, bought them all, and carefully transported them to their garrets and dust holes, to lie there till their estates are settled, when they will start again. When a man dies he kicks the dust.”
Henry David Thoreau “Walden.”

We lived in Iowa in the late 90s and one of us got bit by the auction bug. If you make the mistake of dying in Iowa, your family will empty your drawers and boxes on the front lawn. Neighbors and strangers will congregate and wonder why you kept all that stuff.  My first bidding experience awarded me a cracked bowl. I didn’t care that I overpaid. I had raised my hand and stood my ground. Jenny’s bowl graces my front step filled with sedum, and dust.

Dr. Oz says that healthy eating leads to healthy living. If I switch from butter to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter--chemicals in a bottle, dairy farmers sell less of their cows’ production. And they sell out to mega corporations. This helps us how now, brown cow?

Two or three neighbors can share a lawnmower but there is a consequence; the hardware store sells one or two less mowers. When the sales at Home Depot decreases, the quarterly sales report is bad and investors sell the stock. And when the big box moves into a neighborhood they save the residents money, but they hold an unfair buying advantage over the neighborhood hardware store. Compromise: thank John for mowing our lawn.

So what is our response to Thoreau’s call for Simplicity? It will need to be individual and subjective, an on-going process.  I read Thoreau’s chapter, Economy, to be a judgmental and pompous affair. He denigrates those who choose to spend their lives farming and eating meat. He ridicules those who live in the village and attempt to earn their livelihood in the market place. He speaks with his chin raised and his voice a professorial pitch suitable to academic lectures. Time to bring “Walden” back to the library.

For my part, I currently practice simplicity by avoiding shopping which gives me a headache anyway. I shop infrequently and only when I have a specific purchase in mind. This is my story and I’m sticking to it. The exception is cruising art fairs. Eye candy.  Colors for the soul. I justify my careful spending by saying I am supporting local artists. Here are some of my favorite artists who have internet sources.

Frill.   Karen designs and sews incredibly beautiful handbags. She also does custom orders. I’m not a handbag person but could have taken home several. To my credit I bought only one. At this time.

four corners design.  Unique collages and montages Amy Duncan mounts on boards, glass, etc. then photographs for note cards and wall hangings. I bought “Hope.”

Original paintings by Janet Hamilton. I love to buy her greeting cards.

BFF Snooter-Doots:  Fishee, Buggee, Foodie-Friends and more. Children of any age love the colorful, felted, ‘free-form’ knit toys. They’re light and can’t break in the mail.

KaleidEscapes for those of you who share my fascination with kaleidoscopes.

And if you need a lovely gift for someone special, Sue Rena Curtis' handcrafted stained glass mobiles can be found at   She created my Irene mobile.

And of course, Bienella skin care.
Simply, wonderfully creative.

Monday, September 10, 2012


“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises?  If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”   

Henry David Thoreau. from the chapter, “Conclusion.” Walden.
I have read this quote through the years and wondered at the context. If you drop the initial question, then the appealing image of "different drummer" can be stretched to wrap around various shapes and purposes. Placing it in Thoreau's context, I suspect it is autobiographical.

Thoreau was writing before the Civil War and some 60 years following the Revolutionary War and with less than 20 years after the War of 1812. We tend to think that our federal government sprang into full-blown being with everyone on board. There was still divisive sentiment for and against England. Building in intensity was the slavery issue driving a wedge between the growing industrial north and the agricultural south. 

It was 1845 when Thoreau built a cabin on property owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau did not live isolated in his cabin near Walden Pond. He regularly hiked into town for dinner and conversation with friends. “…where I was well entertained, and after learning the kernels and very last sieveful of news, what had subsided, the prospects of war and peace, and whether the world was likely to hold together much longer….”

He stood on the stoop of the general store and watched the varied population march to the drummer of land development, mercantile expansion, and social progress. The legal system was developing and he occasionally walked on the wrong side when he refused to pay a tax or “recognize the authority of the State which buys and sells men, women and children, like cattle….” When released from the primitive jail, he returned to his woods to gather his dinner of huckleberries on Fair Haven Hill.

We loved living in New Jersey for 16 months exploring historical sites. New England states are compact enough that one can visit two or three in a day. In 2004 we passed Walden Pond, although Thoreau’s cabin is now a replica of the original. As Thoreau might have, we enjoyed coffee in a shop on a main street in Concord chatting with the proprietor. The visitor’s center provided us with a map to the North Bridge where the first confrontation of the Revolutionary War took place in 1775. On our return into town we found it curious that a group of locals were marching with signs opposing war, perhaps descendants of dissenters in 1775.

To commemorate those who challenged the British at the North Bridge, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a poem. The embattled farmers definitely fit Thoreau's description.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set today a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those spirits dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.