Sunday, September 28, 2008

Migrating Buzzards

Last evening I enjoyed a quiet hour or so on the swing out back, overlooking the farms in the valley. About half an hour in, I noticed that there were flocking buzzards overhead. In our area, buzzards migrate in the fall, presumably south to California or beyond. Last fall we noticed huge flocks of them, floating in lazy circles between hilltops and cloud bottoms. It was the first time we had seen big flocks of buzzards - usually there are no more than 2 or 3 together. All summer they swoop about our hilltop, (well, around all the hills in our area - no special buzzard fascination here) sometimes below the house level. (I am still not accustomed to looking down on birds from the house.) One more sign of fall. Still too warm for fall foliage to be very bright.

We love to watch the buzzards, by the way. Their flight seems to be effortless, and they soar forever. It's always exciting to see their return in the spring - they make the skies much more interesting. Annie the dog hates them and chases them through the air when they get close, barking fiercely. Our protector.

Annie watches the perimeter when we are outside. Inside, we're sitting down, she's snuggled in. Outside, we're sitting down, she is at least ten feet away facing out, making sure that nothing can get close to us.

This morning Annie made me aware that a deer was in the vegetable garden again. I know that if I were more PC I would be gracious about sharing with the deer. After all, it's late summer and hasn't rained but once since - July? June? But you know, when I went up there Friday to water the peas that we just put in for winter crops and saw that half the strawberries were grazed to the ground, and half the peas that had already put on a good 6 inches were gone, and the roses were once again stripped just as they were recovering from the last attack and had covered themselves with glorious bloomage, when my beautiful white verbena that I have kept gorgeous behind the deer fence was decimated, that about a quarter of the broccoli that I started from seed and are putting on beautiful heads were totally chewed , well, it was very discouraging. I really don't want to share these things with the deer, no matter their plight. Todd spent this morning finding a possible entrance point and reinforcing it with additional strands of barbed wire. We'll see how it goes.

But lazily circling buzzards in warm purple air - that's a reward to living in the deer battleground.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Perspective

I know there are lots of strong feelings within our blogs and comments right now. May I ask that everyone who plans to vote in this election for either Barack Obama or John McCain - please see for his latest post. There are two short vidoes - one for Barack and one for John. I found it informative.

Monday, September 22, 2008

For What It's Worth

Okay, I thought I would go outside my blog "box" and express some thoughts on the upcoming election and an issue or two.

I will be voting for the McCain/Palin ticket, not because I am a big McCain fan, but other reasons. He showed some really good sense in choosing Sarah Palin, and that is the biggest reason. She isn't perfect, no one is, but I agree with her stands on issues almost down the line. I sincerely hope she becomes our next president after McCain. And not because she is a woman, but because I think she's terrific.

As to why I would have voted for McCain even without Palin on the ticket? I believe that it would be a nightmare for our country's future to have Barrack Obama as the president. He is the most liberal Democrat in the Senate, and represents with a very nice face some very bad stands.

Abortion - an issue he supports whole-heartedly, even to voting four times against providing medical care to babies that survive an abortion procedure, and even to killing babies as they are being born, simply at the request of the - I have a hard time even calling a person who would ask for that the "mother". That alone would disqualify Mr. Obama from my vote. John McCain told Rick Warren that a person is a person at the moment of conception, and has the rights of every other person. I support that.

Health care - I will not suggest that health care provision is at a good place in our country. My husband and I are self-employed and pay for our own catastrophic health insurance. It has a very high deductible in order for it to be feasibly affordable, but we know if any high bills came, they would be covered. Along the way, I have learned some things:

You don't have to go to the doctor if you don't feel good. You can look symptoms up on the internet and use over the counter helps in order to feel better. We love Zicam! I know enough to know when symptoms warrent a real doctor visit, and they are very few in our household. We eat healthy foods, sleep plenty and take echinacea/goldenseal a lot.

When I do go to the doctor for myself or one of the boys, and the doctor says he/she wants us to have, say, an abdominal CAT scan for undiagnosed pain...I have learned to say, "Is that really necessary? Because my insurance won't pay for that." So far, almost every time, the doctor has backed down and agreed that it wasn't really necessary at all. So we get better without the expensive procedures. Except when they are absolutely necessary. Then we go ahead.

Countries that have government backed health care aren't necessarily winding up with a well-cared for populace. For example, many women who have high risk pregnancies in British Columbia wind up spending months at Seattle or Spokane hospitals in order to receive proper medical care. That tells me that Canada's state run medical system isn't working very well. In 2006 the state of Massachusettes instituted a state run health insurance program, mandatory for its citizens. I just found an article from the Boston Globe describing that the wait to see a primary care doctor has grown to as long as 100 days, the number of practices accepting new patients has dipped dramatically, leaving these newly insured patients waiting weeks to even find a doctor that will accept them, then months longer to get an appointment. Many doctors are working 60+ hour weeks, and for many of their patients, say that they might just as soon hand each patient a $20 dollar bill as bill the insurance company. It actually costs them money to see these patients. How long do you think this can go on?

So my conclusion about health care is that, as broken as our system is, it's better than a government run system. And make no mistake, Mr. Obama is advocating that the government will handle our nation's health care, not a private company. I don't want my government telling me whether or not I can see a doctor or how often. Maybe we should all ask our doctors if those extra, wildly expensive tests, are really necessary.

Taxes - I know that Mr. Obama claims that he will only raise taxes on 5% of the population, but that is pretty misleading. President Bush rolled back some taxes that Mr. Obama promises to reinstate, such as taxes on investment income and taxes on inheritances. If he is elected and does in fact do this, the Stock Market should take a serious tumble, since investors will be looking at ways to increase their money without being penalized so harshly for it. And as for an inheritance tax, if a person is wise with their income and pays taxes on it, and is able to leave that money to their children, why should taxes be exacted a second time on the same money?

Understand this - higher taxes on corporations simply equate to less profit, less money to hire employees, and ultimately less incentive to make money. Todd and I have had serious discussions whether we want to work less hard so we make less money and pay less taxes. Self-employment taxes are just enormous! Sometimes we want to stop making money so the state and federal government can't take it away from us. We are de-incentivised, if that is a word. That's a bad place for businesses to be in. And the small businesses of America make up a huge percentage of the nation's employers. Tax increases would be catastophic in today's economy. The economy needs to be fixed, but certainly not with higher taxes.

Redistribution of Wealth - This really is the cornerstone of socialism. It involves taking from the rich to give to the poor. We cheered for Robin Hood when he did this, right?! (One of Disney's all-time best movies...) But in reality, higher taxes on the high producers simply penalizes them for their success. Did you get that? High taxes on high-producers penalizes them for their hard work. Then why would we want to continue to work hard and long and struggle to get ahead, if that profit is taken away from us in the form of taxes so someone who doesn't work at all or work as hard as we do can have the same advantages we have to work for?

We have no problem with paying our fair share of taxes. We report every dime that we make to the IRS because we believe that is the right thing to do, not just because the law says so, but because the Bible says so. We like thinking that our taxes are helping people who are really in need - a single mom struggling to work and feed and house her family. An injured person who can't work needs help until they can begin to produce again. But I think that every person on welfare should have to work in some capacity for that income, unless they are incapacitated. That's a Biblical principle too. We just don't want to support people who make excuses for not working when they really could. And we really don't want our taxes to be spent on government excesses any more than people's excuses.

Energy Independence - Anyone who has seen the existing pipeline in Alaska has seen caribou etc grazing under and around the thing. It isn't causing any harm to any portion of the local ecology. The Gulf of Mexico has multi-oil platforms, which produce oil for our country without harming it. If we had continued to cultivate and develop our nation's wealth of oil and natural gas, if we had built more nuclear power plants, if we had begun seriously researching alternate energy sources years ago, we would never have known this mind-boggling, vulnerable, energy dependence on countries who have declared their intention to destroy us (Venezuela, Iran), or countries that can tell us how much we will have to pay in order to keep our economy running. There is no excuse for this situation in which we find ourselves. We must make it a priority to change this.

So there you go - my two cents worth.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Morning Peace

I was talking with Seth Primm yesterday morning and he mentioned that he had no idea what our part of the world looks like. It made me remember that it's been a long time since I shared a scenery picture from the mountaintop. So here you go - around sunrise this morning, looking south from the front porch. A moment of peace before the day began.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Look, Karyn!

Enough with the guilt for not having made good on my promise to bake a "real" blueberry pie for Todd if he helped us pick the berries. Boy, did he help!
I looked up the recipe for Pate Brisee on Martha's website and followed it to the letter, except added a tsp of baking powder per Priscilla's recipe. Isn't it beautiful?
Unfortunately for me, the crust was absolutely delicious, the perfect blend of tenderness and crispiness. How can I ever go back to Pillsbury?! Todd even declared that I had proven my ability and now I'm free to proclaim myself a real baker. He told me if I want to, I can go back to the fakes, since this one took at least 2 hours (good grief). The question is - can I go back?

Garden Bounty, Doe Foe

Look at this beautiful tomato out of our own garden!
See those jars of plum jam on the counter behind?
They started out like this...
...then like this. Then Pris canned them up! Yum.
Would you believe the nerve of this doe? Every plant in this bed was chosen to be unappealing to her, downright deer-disgusting. I guess no one told her! I don't know how many times she has eaten down this bed. But this time I had sprayed Liquid Fence on the most browsed plants, and she would put her adorable little mouth down to them and then go - "Ewww!"
She didn't even take a bite. Then we let Annie out and watched Bambi's mom patch out on the driveway!

Monday, September 1, 2008


New Friend

I have a new - well, acquaintence might be a better term. She's about three inches long and buzzes when she flies. I first got really close to her last Friday when I was sitting at the computer. The window next to me was open, and I heard a quiet, low buzz. Cautiously I turned just my head, and then I saw her. Irridescent green back, sturdy little body, drinking quickly and deeply from the flowers in a window box exactly like this one.

Next day, she was back, again getting good nutrition from another similar window box.

This morning I was standing on the front porch, enjoying the freshness of the early fall breeze. From inside the house, Todd quietly said, "Look at the small waterfall." There she was, drinking her fill of the water (kept chemical-free just for visiting birds and resident koi, at the sacrifice of beautiful, sparkling, algae-free waterfalls). Then again, the low buzzing, but this time right beside me. She was suddenly drinking from the pink geranium on the front porch, not a foot from my side. After tasting every blossom, she zipped off to another window box, zipped back to make sure she covered each individual bloom, then off she went to another bed.

I really hope my little friend keeps coming back. Maybe I'll even get a picture of her, although my telephoto is puny and her size is petite. I notice she's keeping this place under her hat, not inviting any friends - yet!