Saturday, April 29, 2017

100 days in he thought it would be easier

Here's your update on some of the stuff in the last two and a half weeks in DC...

Remember when Trump said he would probably be the first president to ever make money off being president? That wasn't a simple musing, it was a promise and one of the ways he is doing it is by being granted trademarks for his businesses by foreign governments, trademarks they kept declining before he was elected. 

As another example, over $500K of campaign funds for Trump's 2020 campaign has already gone into his pocket. 

The generals, given leave to do whatever they want by Trump, have just dropped one of the biggest bombs there is, 22,000 pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb, short of going nuclear, a bomb that is not designed to penetrate hardened targets like bunkers or cave complexes, on ISIS in Afghanistan and killed 92 ISIS militants. Trump just spent $16 million to kill 92 militants.

In another act of incompetence, Trump announced a warship was heading for the Korean peninsula Easter weekend with orders to act aggressively towards N. Korea when, in fact, it was headed in the opposite direction to participate in war games with Australia, sparking fears of an imminent outbreak of hostilities with both sides putting nuclear bombs on the table.

Mar A Lago, Trump's weekend getaway, had 13 health violations right before the Japanese Prime Minister was to visit.

Trump signed a bill that would allow states to withhold federal funding from health care organizations that provide abortions, including PP where only 3% of it's services are abortion, even though it is already against the law to use federal funds for abortions thereby decreasing funding for health services to women who don't want an abortion, reversing yet another of Obama's protections for the population at large.

Trump's White House refuses to make the visitor logs public.

House Republicans voted once again to keep Trump's taxes secret.

The Republican Congress passed a bill to allow a person's private browser history to be sold to whoever is interested in buying it.

While Trump undoes all the progress Obama and the US made towards renewable energy, thereby reducing carbon pollution in the atmosphere, by rescinding all the regulations and enticements put in place to slow global warming, China and other countries are taking the lead.

Trump crashed a Purple Heart award ceremony, “when I heard about this I wanted to do it myself”, and then told the man who just lost his leg “congratulations, tremendous”.

Trump appointee AG Jeff Sessions doesn't think a federal judge in Hawaii should have the right to stop Trump from doing something unconstitutional.

Trump has offered the Democrats a funding for his border wall and he won't cut payments to the ACA thereby holding hostage the health insurance for millions of low income Americans.

On another day, Trump threatens to refuse to sign a stop gap spending bill and shut down the government if it doesn't include funding for his wall with plans to blame it on the Democrats while Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, accuses the Democrats of 'stunning' obstructionism in a Congress in which Republicans have a majority in both houses.

The state department and US embassies are promoting Trump's Mar A Lago resort. See the first entry on this list. (They have since removed the article from their websites.)

Republican legislators would, in another hypocritical move through their new replacement health care bill, exempt themselves and their aides from losing the very popular protections the ACA provides while they are giving the states the right to rescind these protections for their constituents.

In an attempt to open national lands to drilling, mining, and logging, Trump signed an EO requiring the Interior Department to review the designation of two national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, opening the door to reviewing all our national lands.

Trump admits he doesn't read the EOs he signs, admits he doesn't really read, finds it boring, has instructed his staff to present information in charts and graphs, pictures, instead of words, and no longer than a page or two and is basically functionally illiterate.

Trump responds with insults and applied a 20% tariff on soft wood imports from Canada, once again damaging our relationship with an ally and causing American consumers to have to pay more for building materials, in response to Canada's recent lowering of their prices on dairy ingredients to make them more competitive with American dairy imports.

Trump had his lawyers file a motion that it is illegal for the American people to protest him at his rallies citing his 1st amendment right to free speech and trampling everyone else's right to free speech in the process in response to the civil suit brought by the victims of the violence he incited at one of his rallies.

Trump once again exhorts companies and consumers to 'buy American and hire American' while he and daughter Ivanka continue to have their merchandise made overseas in sweatshops and Trump companies continue to import workers from outside the US so they can pay them less.

In another act of hypocrisy, Trump constantly criticized the Clinton Foundation for accepting money from foreign governments while HRC was Secretary of State but has no problem with daughter Ivanka's foundation accepting money from governments while Ivanka holds her position in the US government whatever the hell that is.

As more and more evidence piles up via various investigations supporting the allegations concerning the Trump campaign's, and Trump's, collusion with Russia prior to the election and certain political figures' ties to Russia including but not limited to money laundering, digital espionage, payments, political promises, and blackmail, the Republican controlled congress continues to refuse to appoint an independent investigation while they drag their feet on the congressional investigation.

As usual, everything Trump does is to benefit himself and other millionaires and billionaires and his tax plan goes a long way to making them richer. Us peons? Not so much.

Remember when Trump, during his campaign and earlier, condemned President Obama for his Executive Orders and that he wouldn't need to rely on EOs to get things done, that he was going to basically do away with them? Yeah, that. He will have signed 32 EOs in his first 100 days according to WH aides, more than any president in 74 years, along with 24 memorandums and 20 proclamations.

Because the 9th Circuit Court judges continue to strike down Trump's unconstitutional decrees and EOs, Trump wants to break up the 9th Circuit. 

Trump, on his 98th day in office, admits in an interview with Reuters that 'I thought it would be easier' and hands out maps with the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map with the areas he won marked in red still finding it necessary to remind himself and everyone else that he won the election.

In line with Trump's promise to be the 'jobs president', Secretary of State Tillerson plans to cut 2,300 state department jobs because who needs diplomacy when you can just drop a nuclear bomb on them.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


You might remember that on February 14th a tornado came through town and peeled back half the roof on one of the buildings of the antique store and busted out some of the clerestory windows and the store is still closed. None of the damage has been repaired yet and the owner isn't sure what she wants to do about any of it since she has another location now in Rosenberg. The point of this is that I no longer have a Saturday job. Without that job and being mostly retired I have a hard time remembering what day of the week it is. Well, I can usually keep track of Mondays and Wednesdays as these are yoga days but the rest soon escape me. Not that that matters I guess as long as reminders from my calendar keep popping up like the one for last Tuesday.

I had my last follow-up doctor's appointment with my primary care physician who I like a lot. She was pretty astounded at some of the things I told her about my visits to the ENT and asked if I wanted to go to a different one, which I declined. Her position is we may not know exactly what is causing the spasms or choking but we know what isn't...not cancer, not a tumor or any other growth or obvious malfunction, which is nice to know, so we're back to mindfulness while eating and drinking.

I did finally get two things accomplished...

the second horizontal surface, clean tools, clean paper, wax dust free and in plastic bags

all that clay finally removed, now one more yard of dirt to fetch this week

...and just in time since it's supposed to get up to 90˚ on Friday. In April.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

yard and garden notes

getting our summer canopy

We had a cool front blow in Saturday evening so I abandoned cleaning the wax off my tools and decided to work on the shop fence between us and our neighbor. It's completely overgrown with wild grape and virginia creeper and ironweed and further down, poison ivy. There are pecan trees and hackberry trees growing under all that that needs to be cleared out. I don't know how many hours I worked out there with a machete and long handled nippers but the truck was completely filled and I only uncovered about 10' of fence.

Garden news...some of the tomatoes are starting to pink up 

but so far all but two of the 7 I've picked had rotten spots on them. 

My neighbor says worm damage though I haven't seen any worms and I look over those plants every day. I did pick a big hornworm off the potato plants so maybe it moved over there. I've counted 7 more that have damage, all at or near the bottom of the plants, so maybe that will be the end of it. My onions, which I took such care to move to the good dirt, have still not grown one bit and neither has the pepper plant I put in there too so I guess this dirt is hot too or stuff just doesn't like to be moved. I've given up on getting onions this year. I emptied a bit more of the crappy dirt clay and located another place to buy garden soil from that while it may not be any closer, it's not any farther away and is $2 cheaper for a yard. Hopefully it won't be so hot nothing grows in it until it sits over the summer. I'd like to get some green beans in at least.

baby satsumas!

I noticed the juvenile squirrels are out romping around. There were two in the ditch in the front earlier and I caught sight of three others chasing each other up and around one of the trees in front of the library last week. They can be such pests but the young ones are so cute. Sitting in the house a week or so ago I looked up and saw a bunny in the front yard out in the middle of the day. I've seen them in the back out by the Wild Space if I'm up early enough but I've never seen one out in the front yard during the middle of the day.

taken on high magnification through the screen

stuff is still blooming though the evening primrose and baby blue eyes are going to seed and the poppies are about done 

last night's sunset

Friday, April 21, 2017

all play and no work

Wednesday evening looking east

A thought occurred to me yesterday while I was at an estate sale with my sister that I might not be semi-retired like I've been saying but actually retired. I have not been pursuing the etched/carved glass for some time now and I think we only did 3 jobs last year even if one of them was the big A&M job and only one very small job so far this year, more of a favor than an actual job though we did get paid for it. And we sell the occasional pate de verre piece. I'm not retired from that, just the etched glass even though I haven't made anything new in months. It's just that the weather and the garden and the yard and the flowers and the birds and the bees and all that. There's still some work to do out there but it is starting to get hotter and I can't spend all day doing it like I have been. So today I'm cleaning off the two large horizontal surfaces in my 'in house' studio in preparation for starting some new models during the hot part of the day, even though one of the horizontal surfaces has all my wax working tools and wax spread out all over it. It all needs to be cleaned and neatened for a fresh start. Right now everything is covered in dust and cat hair.

it's worse than it looks

probably should have shown you the before picture so you could be properly impressed

These estate sales that we go to are all pretty much alike. They were a treasure trove when I was collecting glassware to make the totems. I still manage to score something cool now and then like this rusted metal candle lantern shaped like a firefly that I got yesterday, which speaking of fireflies have been out the last several nights. It's going to get hung outside next to the back door.

I picked up these paper fans at another one a while back.

I have to wonder at who prices some of this stuff though like this totally rotten wood falling apart covered with spider webs and filled with ancient nesting material bird house for $3. That should have gone straight in the trash.

The other thing we did was stop at a plant nursery on the way home to see if I could find a new porterweed (that's the butterfly magnet shrub that made those long stalks with the small pink flowers that I can never remember the name of) to replace the one that froze and I did. The other thing I was looking for they only had in big pots and I didn't want to spend that much so I got a bulbine (which also froze and didn't come back) for the new flower bed.

Then Minnie and I went for our walk and checked on the garden and listened to the birds and watched the fireflies and that sounds like retired to me.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

the ENT redux

He basically blew me off. (of course, there was that less than stellar review I wrote on the questionnaire they sent me after my first visit) We looked at the CT scan images of my nasal passages and he pointed out how constricted the left side is and how I don't breathe out of the left nostril because of this constriction which is why I breathe through my mouth and most people would have got that corrected. old news All this is damage from when I was 3 and broke my nose and my parents never saw fit to have it corrected later and then as an adult with no insurance and living and raising a family on an artist's income it was out of the question as long as it wasn't life threatening and it hasn't been life threatening. I am aware that my breath through one nostril is restricted, I take care to sleep with my nose and mouth not smooshed into the pillow, I don't like stuff around my face, I try to keep my nasal passages clear within reason. For the record, I can breathe out of my left nostril and only breathe through my mouth when I'm stopped up. It's not like what happens is a slow asphyxiation. When it happens it's sudden, one minute I'm fine and the next I can't breathe or just barely.

So he does the camera down the throat thing which didn't hurt (the attendant put numbing solution soaked cords in my nostrils first) and shows me my vocal chords and has me make noise and I see them constrict and he pointed the camera into my nasal passages. All looks good and right in there, no obvious malformations down there.

Then he kept pointing out this thing in the image of the CT scan in my nasal passage on the left adding to the constriction from the broken nose...a skin sac full of air. It was very clearly there (hmmm, I wonder if that's why the left side seems full so much more often) so a malformation there in that most people don't have this but I was born like this he says, born with it, that it shows up in about 15% of people. I'm like...OK, so this is something I've lived my whole life with and I'm not really sure what he's saying or recommending, it doesn't seem to be a problem that demands to be fixed to me unless it is or will get worse for which he didn't really have an answer. So yeah, OK, but what about the problem I'm here for, the whole suffocation/choking thing. Perhaps I should get a second opinion, he said, because he could not see anything wrong, perhaps another doctor would be able to see something he wasn't able to, and he was done. What a colossal waste of time and money. I got more attention and useful information from the speech therapist that helped administer the barium swallow test than from this doctor.

So no. I'll not be going through this again just to find out what I already know, that it's just one of many swallowing disorders that you learn to manage among the many weird things that affect and afflict the ever diverse physical form of a human body, unless something extreme happens. 

Maybe I am choking, or rather, aspirating and not suffocating, only instead of one big thing blocking my airway, it's small droplets (saliva or liquid) that take some effort to expel. Who knows. The only answer is the same...mindfulness. Mindfulness when I eat and drink so I may be a pretty dull dinner companion from here on out, just saying.

But, y'all, I kept my promise and went to the doctor about it.

Monday, April 17, 2017

waiting for the apocalypse

I've spent nearly all day for the last three days outside, like river days. Only on river days I was outside 24/7 though usually it was only 24/3 although I did a handful of weeklong trips or longer. I figured if these were going to be the last three days on this earth as we know it*, I would spend them outside tending to the growing things as if it was just any ordinary day.

Fortunately, cooler heads have prevailed, for now at least.

Friday Marc helped me shovel out the yard of dirt for the flower bed and Friday and Saturday I got it planted. So far...Cinco De Mayo rose, gardenia, plumeria, hibiscus, spirea, nile lilies, day lilies, spiderwort, and still room for more.

Sunday I tended to little things, repaired two wind chimes, repotted a few things, worked in the Little Backyard mostly. Gave everything a good watering.

Bees are swarming the cosmos and larkspur with the occasional butterfly and hummingbird.

*re Trump's evident desire to start a nuclear war with North Korea

Thursday, April 13, 2017

working on my Wa

Well, that didn't last long. The moving on to better things but best be aware of what's going on even though I get it that people are tired of hearing about the continuing shit show in the WH. That said, I'm not going to talk about it again until the next list gets compiled because of course it will. Unless, of course he gets us in a war with North Korea before then.

Let's see, in the past week or so, I dug more grass out of the new flower bed finally getting it all out on Sunday. I also went over to the garden to ponder the new raised bed and the fact that the squash turned yellow and shriveled up and the onions have not grown a bit and so I know that the dirt that guy sold me was crap and I was going to just mix in some organic material but looking at it I got the shovel to explore and the top 3 or 4 inches was dry and hard as a rock even with the organic material that I added when I first got that cheap dirt and once I managed to get past that, the bottom 4 to 6 inches was wet and when I gathered up a handful and squeezed...clay. It was clay. 

So no amending that and I started at the end and started shoveling that crap out, spreading it around in all the low spots in the shop yard. I got a little over half out and ran out of good dirt. I had gone to get another yard of the good stuff and piled it up around the potatoes and that was what I had left. So after I did that, I carefully dug up the onion starts and replanted them in the good dirt so now I hope they will start growing. The squash was a lost cause but I have another clump growing nicely.

I went to another estate sale with my sister and found a shepherd's crook with two hooks that I bought. They had a really nice old fashioned lamp that I wanted but I didn't want to pay that much for it and I already have a lamp similar that I got at a previous sale that I still haven't rewired, and have no use for either anyway.

I went and got a CAT scan, one more step in the process of trying to figure out why I had those suffocating episodes, that's how I think about them now instead of choking, not that I expect they will figure anything out. I'm actually more interested in trying some Chinese medicine or acupuncture but I'll see this through. Although, Sunday night I was going to cancel the whole thing. I'd been fighting off some bug all week Marc gave me that he picked up at the family doo-wop in Dallas and the thought of having to swallow more barium or get iodine injected or have a miniature camera threaded through my nostril and down my throat just wasn't all that appealing. But I didn't and it turned out that the CAT scan was just of my head and throat and it was just this big donut shaped thing and I laid down on a table with my head in a cushion cradle and it was over in a few minutes.

Oh, and I went and got another yard of dirt Tuesday for the new flower bed that Marc tilled for me on Monday. I was looking at shoveling it out except that it finally rained Tuesday afternoon and gave me a break and still too wet out there.

my helpers

One thing with all this shoveling and digging, my arms and calves are looking pretty damn good.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

up to and including day 78 but mostly just the last week or so

220 cities will lose passenger train service because of Trump's elimination of all federal funding for Amtrak's National Network Trains, hurting the very communities he promised to help.

Self admitted sexual predator Trump doesn't think sexual predator Bill O'Reilly did anything wrong.

Trump's Department of Homeland Security is trampling on the 1st amendment by pressuring Twitter to reveal the identity of the rogue DHS Twitter account.

Trump claims to have the most successful 13 week presidency to date while he has been in office 11 weeks.

Trump's nominee for FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, thinks the FDA puts too much emphasis on consumer protection. Think about that. He also has received tens of thousands of dollars in speaking fees from the opioid industry, specifically the makers of oxycodone, has lobbied on their behalf, and doesn't believe it should be restrained or held accountable for it's part in the opioid epidemic in this country.

Military strikes under Trump have killed over 1,000 innocent civilians in Iraq and Syria in the month of March alone.

After scorning Syrian refugees and trying to refuse them entry, Trump cries crocodile tears for the victims after Assad's gas attack.

After claiming that HRC would be a warmonger during the campaign, Trump has refused to fill State Department positions essential for diplomacy and negotiating with foreign countries and instead bypassed Congress and launched an air missile attack on Syria in an act of war, an act that is illegal by our own laws and also by international law.

Trump informed Russia of the impending missile attack on Syria before he informed Congress. Syria was also informed and evacuated personnel and equipment in advance of the attack which destroyed six broken planes and a mess hall and left the runways and other essential buildings intact and killed several civilians.

Trump owns stock in the company that makes the missiles and profits every time one is used.

Trump basically gave his son-in-law Jared Kushner the task of being president.

After cutting funding to the Interior Department by $1.5 billion in his budget, Trump makes a show of donating the first three months of his salary, $78K, to the Park Service which is funded by the Interior Department.

Trump visits one of his properties every 2.8 days thereby transferring money from the National Treasury to himself. He plays golf every 5.6 days.

In another act of vindictiveness against former President Obama, the Republican Congress with bill H.R. 226, wants to rescind the elephant ivory protections that have been in place since 2014 thereby ensuring the continued poaching of elephants which are already on the endangered species list.

Perjurer AG Jeff Sessions says he will not renew the National Commission on Forensic Science, a roughly 30-member advisory panel of scientists, judges, crime lab leaders, prosecutors and defense lawyers chartered by the Obama administration in 2013.

In 3 months, Trump has already spent almost double Obama's annual travel budget and this does not include the cost of protecting his 3 residences...White House, Mar A Lago, NY penthouse.

Tourism is down markedly in response to Trump's attempted travel bans and the heightened security checks at the border including demanding traveler's phones, passwords, contact lists, and social media accounts as well as more extreme 'pat downs' and the risk of being detained. Mexicans in particular are going to Canada instead.

Trump's White word. Nepotism.

Not satisfied with the illegal bombing of Syria, Trump is poking the hornet's nest by sending warships, under orders to take an aggressive stance, to patrol North Korea.

Already under investigation by the FBI and both houses of Congress, the Government Accountability Office has announced an investigation of Trump’s presidential transition over conflicts of interest.

AG Jeff Sessions, in a speech to border patrol agents on the US/Mexico border, refers to illegal immigrants as 'filth'. This is a new era,” he said. “This is the Trump era.”

WH Spokesperson Sean Spicer, in some sort of weird defense of Trump, claimed that not even Hitler gassed his own people. Let that sink in.

Trump stripped protection of our smaller bodies of water and rivers by rescinding Obama's Clean Water Rule giving industry permission to dump toxic waste in these smaller bodies that are essential for the population's drinking water and health of wildlife.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

on to more pleasant topics...

My tomatoes are growing lushly, the plants are almost as tall as the cages already with tomatoes growing and blooming profusely. The foliage is so dense and thick that the flowers weren't getting fertilized so I sprayed some bloom set on them and then last week I got in there with scissors and cut away some of the foliage and started picking off all the suckers that didn't already have open flowers on them. Tomatoes may be the only thing I get our of this spring garden. 

The potatoes are also growing lushly and are blooming but since I ran out of dirt to keep piling up around the plants early on I don't know how many potatoes I'm going to get. I don't even know when I'm supposed to harvest them. When the plants die down I guess. Now that they are blooming, it is too late to pile up more dirt?

The one clump of zucchini in the big bed is growing well but the one in the new raised bed, the one with the so-called magic caney soil? Hasn't grown, has turned yellow. And the onions haven't grown one bit. So, even with the 1/3 of the good expensive dirt mixed in, that caney soil is worthless. I'm going to have to spend this season building up the soil with organic material and then maybe it will grow something in the fall garden. The neighbor says it has to be topsoil which this wasn't but my sister got some caney topsoil once and it was full of nut grass and other weeds.

Stuff is blooming in the yard y'all...roses, poppies, mock dogwood, cosmos, rocket larkspur, evening primrose, baby blue eyes, volunteer zinnias, verbena, amaryllis, mexican petunias, love-in-a-mist, purple coneflowers, nun's orchid, and the day lilies are starting to send up scapes.

This maroon japanese iris has bloomed for the first time. I acquired the small clump of rhizomes three or four years ago and finally they are blooming.

But other things did not like the daffodils and the purple iris and the white iris, lots of foliage but no blooms. The little climbing jasmine that froze to the ground has come back but will not bloom this year and of all the things that froze last winter, all but three came back...the shrub with the little coral flowers, a small mexican bush sage, and the white orchid tree in a pot. I decided to go ahead and pull the dead carcass of the white orchid tree out of the pot today, reached down and yanked it one way and heard one of the roots snap and then looked down to see a cluster of small growth at the base of the small truck. DOH!!! 

So I cut off the dead part and watered it well and crossing my fingers that it still has several more good sized roots.

Monday, April 3, 2017

the ENT

Thursday I drove back to Bay City for my appointment with the ENT doc. The speech therapist urged me to write down everything that we talked about, the two types of attacks, all the little quirks that interfere with my swallowing, like not being able to swallow pills larger than a cold capsule or finding it hard to clear my throat at times (though the latter might be due to dehydration so I am trying to make a conscious effort to drink more water every day) and not to let him rush the appointment.

The ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doc spent a decent amount of time so no real complaint about that but I don't think he listened to me or was taking me seriously and so far I am not that impressed. Supposedly he read the list I had written up before he came in but he kept confusing the two things and didn't seem to understand that a speech therapist would be conducting the barium swallow (wanted to know how long I had been seeing a speech therapist; I'm not), and made some comment that one of my neck vertebrae was small and did it hurt (no), seemed surprised that I did yoga regularly, decided that I had difficulty swallowing because I was tense and anxious (no, I don't suffer from anxiety or depression or stress and these episodes happen typically when I am relaxed and having fun, I mean really, how tense can I be in my sleep), that it was allergies (the events are not seasonal and no, no classic allergy symptoms though my sinuses do get clogged at times), told me it because I breathe through my mouth (uh, no). When the subject of breaking my nose at age three came do you know that he asked (because it happened to me, because my parents took me to the doctor and had it checked periodically), talking about some other detail of my throat he asked me why I thought that was (if I knew that I wouldn't be here). There was more but you get the idea. He finally settled on my sinuses and told me to use a particular nasal rinse (saline solution) and a lubricating nasal gel (aloe vera in it) three times a day every day for the two and a half weeks (three times a day, every day? I kept asking, seems a little excessive to me) til my next appointment when he is going to stick a little camera down my nose and take a look see. Oh joy.

And this nasal rinse isn't just inhaling a mist. This is pouring two ounces of solution into one nostril until it runs out the other or your mouth and then 2 ounces through the other nostril. More seriously ooky stuff.

Oh yeah, and he ordered an x-ray of my sinuses which I am waiting for them to schedule.

The best thing I took away from this visit was when I asked him if I wasn't choking but suffocating from some spastic muscle, if I pass out will it relax and I'll be able to breathe? He hedged his bets, “90% of the time, yes”. Whether or not they figure out what's going on, and my money is on not, it doesn't look like this is going to kill me.

I wonder if the episodes would pass quicker if I just let myself pass out rather than struggling to breathe through them.