Friday, April 28, 2006
Jose, Can You Si?
Yu've probably heard that there is a new rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner" being released today in Spanish. It was put together by a British producer who wanted to honor the immigrants in America.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Has he put together a rendition of "God Save the Queen" in Arabic to honor the immigrants in his own country? And, if I understand it correctly, there are very few illegal immigrants in England.

Both my mother's parents immigrated here from Switzerland. I would never have been born if not for immigration, and I believe it has kept America vibrant and inventive. But the underpinnings of society, in fact of civilization, is a respect for the law. And our laws say that if you want to move to our country, there are certain procedures you must follow. Sneaking into the country is not one of those procedures.

I understand that some of these people are desperately poor, and want a better life. I hurt for them. But as long as they are allowed to come here illegally, there is no incentive for their country to demand change from their politicians. Of course it's not easy, and it's not accomplished overnight. But until the people demand more of their leaders, their society will not offer them the opportunities to move ahead in their lives. In a sense, America has become The Great Enabler. Our illegal immigrants don't have to do the tough work of acting to change their society. We will instead look the other way when they do something wrong (sneak into the US) and make excuses for their behavior.

The last time amnesty was granted, it encouraged an increased wave of illegal immigration. Are we going to do it again? ("Okay, honey, I'll forgive you, but this is the last time".... said for the 20th time.)

This is not a black and white issue. Things seldom are. There would be huge problems involved in sending all illegals back. Then there are the children who were born here, grew up here, but whose parents are illegal. We have some very difficult decisions to make about how to handle these shades of gray.

Two movie scenes keep going through my head when I think about this problem. First is the part in "Dances With Wolves" where the chief is finally told that more people will come to his country than he could ever imagine, and that they will change everything. The second might have been a made-for-tv movie, about a ship that sank. The captain refused to allow more people to board his lifeboat once it was at capacity. He literally threw people off, and held a gun on the ones left aboard to force them to row. All the other lifeboats were swamped as too many people tried to climb aboard. The only survivors of the shipwreck were the ones on the captain's lifeboat. At the end of the movie, the captain was tried, and convicted, of murder. Everyone on the boat testified against him except one woman who started to jump into the water after her husband and handicapped child were thrown overboard, but who eventually stayed on the lifeboat. When she chose life, she worked through her survivor's guilt.

Now I am the original bleeding heart, but I understand that we cannot save the whole world. There are people more desperately poor in Africa than there are in Central and South America. They just don't happen to have a rich country to sneak into. I don't say, gosh, I can't save the whole world so I won't do anything. I also don't give all my money and assets to charity, because then I would not be able to help anyone. I think this situation is the same. Perhaps we need to increase our legal quotas, while cracking down on illegal immigration. And somehow, we need to help and encourage Central and South American governments to give more opportunity to their own people.

And as for the Spanish version of our national anthem... my question is, why? Does the fact that some people refuse to learn English indicate that they are refusing to learn our customs, as well? Coming from countries in which governments are corrupt and bribing officials routine, will they continue to believe that is normal, and oh-so-slowly change our society to match the ones they came from?

None of this is easy, and we all need to realize that. Jumping to an extreme position: no more immigrants, send back everyone who's here or let them all stay, let more come, they just want a better life, poor babies, will get us nowhere. I understand that making criminals of poor people is a terrible thing, but I also understand that without severe penalties, we will never stop the problem.

I obviously have a lot more questions than answers. Do you have any ideas on how to solve this?

posted at 1:09 PM
Comments (9)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Flower Power
Everyone seems to be posting flowers and I want to get in on the fun. I promise, I'll do my Savannah and Charleston pictures -- just as soon as I finish half a dozen reports. But I don't have to think about where the flowers are.

This is my orchid. It's the second year it's bloomed. It sits on a table in the bedroom most of the year, getting filtered morning sun. I water it when I think about it, which isn't very often. I'm sure if I ever fed it or believed that I had anything to do with it blooming, it would wither up.

This is my very happy hibiscus hedge. It's very sneaky -- it always knows when I want to prune it and puts out hundreds of buds, well aware that I can't bear to cut off the flowers.

My border is sweet alyssum, ageratum and snapdragons. Some of the plants just dry up and I couldn't figure it out until I took these pictures and realized something -- probably an armadillo -- is digging big holes in my beds and uprooting some of my plants.

Passion vine. I have to untangle it from my other plants every few days.

The magnolia is coming into bloom.

So is the oleander.

And the esperanza, which we call Texas Bells.

The sage is flowering.

Every spring, the yellow flowers -- coreopsis, maybe? -- take over the garden.

And the agapanthus (Lily of the Nile) is just about to burst into bloom.

The allemanda has bloomed better the last two years since I haven't had time to feed it. But I would like to find time to tie it up to the trellis.

You may have noticed that there's a lot of yellow flowers (and I didn't show you everything.) If it's yellow and I put it in the ground, it goes beserk. If it's red, it tends to do well. Any other color, and it's an iffy proposition. I don't know why. I would like to have a more color balanced yard, but the flowers seem to know what they like.

posted at 6:33 PM
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Wow! A New Post At Last!
Oh. My. When did life get so chaotic? I see bloggers everywhere who are taking a break because they don't have time to keep up their posts. My breaks come in the unplanned form. So if anyone is still bothering to check on me after almost two weeks of not posting, I'm still around, just overwhelmed.

As most of you know, my dear DIL Stormii had surgery last Wednesday. I ended up spending a lot of time at the hospital and playing chauffeur to her mother and grandmother so Guppyman could stay at the hospital all night. Work has been busy, too, and I just can't seem to squeeze any extra hours out of the day.

We had a small group (for us) on Easter Sunday, just 15. Only two were little kids; the rest were teenagers and adults who act like little kids. I don't know why, but I seem to have a real affinity for weapons, and I found these cool Nerf pump rockets:

They all seemed to have a terrific time playing with them, and the only casualty was a lamp shade.

Over the years the egg-hunting ritual has become a contest between generations. The adults take a fiendish pride in hiding eggs, and the kids are determined to prove that they are just as devious as their parents. I have learned to count the eggs before they're hidden. Here's why:

Of course, they also found the unexpected:

Don't worry, we had traditional egg-hunting, too:

The Professor and I are going on a long weekend trip tonight to Savannah. Maybe I'll have some good pictures to post next week. Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

posted at 6:40 PM
Comments (4)

Saturday, April 08, 2006
Costa Rica Part Dos
Thought I'd share a few more vacation pics with you. As we were driving from the Arenal volcano area to the Pacific coast, we spotted all these coati mundis (did I spell that right?) by the side of the road. They look just like a bunch of cats, don't they, with their tails straight up because they're so excited about being fed.

It was a beautiful drive through the mountains. Suddenly I started seeing signs for German bakeries and Swiss restaurants. Apparently this looked a lot like home to the Germans, Swiss and Austrians. We just had to stop and have apple strudel a la mode (yeah, yeah, forget about those pants I can't fit into any more.) Next door to the bakery was a house with this planted next to it:

Recognize it? It's a poinsettia!

The road through the mountains was fair. There are lots of industrial-sized potholes, but quite a bit of the road had been recently paved. Then we got to the Pan-American Highway, you know, the main route through Central America. It is narrower than my driveway, full of incredible potholes, and crawling with traffic -- and I do mean crawling, because there are a lot of trucks trying to make it up the hills. Everyone is passing on hills and curves -- it's a real test of nerve if you're a chicken like me. But then we took the road to Tamarindo. Most of it washed away in the last rainy season. It was a mixture of dirt and gravel, but mostly dust, since it is still dry season. People swerve all over the road to avoid the potholes. Periodically, there is a stretch of more-or-less intact pavement, which happens to be about a foot higher than the roadbed. It took us 4 hours to go 70 miles. Then the rent car started overheating (the fan wasn't turning) but fortunately we found a service station and got some water in the radiator. I took a picture of the sunset from the gas station driveway.

The Professor had to drive the last few miles in the dark (streetlights? what are they?), dodging potholes and people on unlighted bicycles, cars with no headlights, even cows with no headlights. When we got into Tamarindo, they had the streets torn up. Prof. was hungry, never a cheerful condition for him, and really unhappy with the whole town. I was watching for a decent-looking hotel on the beach. Could I help it if that turned out to be the most expensive one in town?

The Professor cheered up a lot once we checked in and went to have dinner under a huge banyan tree, with the Pacific just a few feet away, a new moon rising, and the Southern Cross in the sky.

This was the view from our room. Tamarindo turns out to be the surfing mecca of Costa Rica. We did a little body surfing and had fun watching all the surfers. We found some wonderful shells, and I actually lay still and did nothing (except read) for at least 30 minutes. This is an accomplishment for me! Here are some more pictures of the hotel and beach:

This iguana begged food from us. I tried tossing him some fruit; he wasn't interested. He liked bread, french fries, and cheesecake. Who knew?

posted at 3:50 AM
Comments (5)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Back to Reality
We got back from Costa Rica yesterday. What a wonderful trip!

We drove from San Jose to a resort at the Arenal Volcano. This is still an active volcano, but it mostly spits out rocks, and occasionally lava. The top was covered in clouds the whole time we were there, so I never got to see what I hear is a very dramatic sight as molten red rocks fly into the air. This is all I saw:

The resort has several pools, one of which is fed by a hot spring. (The spring is heated by the volcano.) It has a great slide into it, and for some unknown reason they chose to put the bar here. Believe me, one drink goes a long way when you are sitting in 90 degree water. One of the cold water pools had a very long slide that goes underground before it shoots you into the pool. We also did the canopy zip lines here -- sorry, no pictures of that. There were 15 lines total; it took about 1-1/2 hours to do the whole trip. I'll be honest with you, I couldn't see the appeal. You go too fast to see much, but not fast enough for it to be a real thrill ride. The scariest part for me was when they would hook and unhook me to the line. Being so short, I had to jump up to take my weight off the hook, and the platform I was standing on was so narrow, I usually felt like I was going to fall. I'm glad I did it, because now I can say I did, but I doubt I'll do it again.

We also did a little float trip, which gave us much more opportunity to see wildlife. Here's some howler monkeys:

This was the little river we floated down. Just a lovely, peaceful morning.

Later we stopped by a restaurant where the owner kept iguanas as pets.

The Professor and I hiked down to the bottom of a waterfall and back out again -- literally hundreds of slick, steep steps and a grueling hike, but oh, so worth it!

As we were climbing -- okay, resting -- all right, gasping for air -- we noticed little green things moving on the ground. Look closely, these are leaf-cutter ants.

I have lots more to tell, but I'll have to save it for another day.

posted at 7:39 PM
Comments (3)

Mitey Mite

Texas, United States

I am older than dirt, but I still feel pretty young & some call me the Energizer Bunny. I share a house with the Professor & 3 cats. Between us we have 5 grown children, all of whom are productive members of society (!), and 10 grandchildren. I have a job I love, a little money for the 1st time in my life, and so many more things I want to do than I will ever have time for.

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At the Aquarium
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